Isn't it amazing how every now and then someone with credentials pronounces a finding that is immediately obvious after they've stated it? Suddenly, the confusion goes away and everything becomes crystal clear, just as it should have been all along.
My old Uncle Pat was a master at that art of clearing up the confusion with a dose of common sense. For example, there was the time, many years ago, when my teenage friends and I were trying to figure out the cause of the pressure leak in a swimming pool filter. After we had taken apart and tightened every conceivable connection to no avail, he walked over and said, "the O-ring's bad." He was right, of course. We changed it and the leak went away. It was obvious, in retrospect, but not until he said it.
Elegant solutions in every field seem obvious after someone invents them, but not always before.
And so, we read with interest the conclusion of two authors interviewed in the Management Roundtable's newsletter, Product Development Best Practices Report (BPR): Innovation, not sound financial and corporate best practices, will determine success in industry in the coming years, say consultant and author Gary Hamel and Harvard Business School Professor and author Clayton Christensen.
Enterprise resource planning and mergers, among other trendy strategies, will only take a company so far. But a corporate culture that encourages and facilitates the spawning and implementation of new ideas will lead to success. That, of course, is particularly true in technology industries, where, as Hamel says, if you ignore innovation "some place like Silicon Valley will spawn a company that will ultimately kill you."
Of course! It's obvious--except, perhaps, to the kind of pointy-headed managers that Dilbert reports to.
Truly innovative companies encourage ideas from everyone--secretaries, fork-lift drivers, middle managers, and executives alike. But, among the best sources of ideas are engineers, with their in-depth understanding of how things work and how to make them work.
Innovation is the key to the future, and engineers are among the most important keyholders. Management should let them unlock their creativity by channeling resources toward technology development and away from the financial or corporate-strategy trend of the moment.
Right, Uncle Pat?