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Tame the Anarchy of Innovation with a Process-Driven Culture
Innovation inevitably leads to change, but can also lead to conflict
By Ivan Seselj
Published on CMS Wire
Almost universally, innovation is regarded as a positive force. In fact, in today’s fast-paced business environment, it’s often considered essential for business survival. For example, consider how many businesses — especially in the technology space — now have a Chief Innovation Officer whose job it is to originate new ideas, while recognizing and fostering innovative ideas generated by others.
Anarchy, on the other hand, is generally associated with destruction and conjures up images of insurrection, disorder, chaos and mayhem.
So what do I mean by "the anarchy of innovation?"Innovation Means Change
The reality is that innovation means change. Introducing innovation in the form of new ideas, changes and fixes, particularly when done on the fly, will inevitably result in change — but quite possibly conflict as well. And there’s no question that innovation in the form of major business transformations will drive massive and widespread changes across organizations.
Innovation can disrupt repeatability and consistency. And if not managed properly, it can cause disorder and chaos, especially for team members who struggle with change.What Is a Process-Driven Culture?
While some would suggest that innovation is in direct conflict with, and can even be crushed by, over-controlled, process-driven cultures, business process management doesn’t have to be like that. In fact, it really shouldn’t be.
Imagine for a moment, a process-driven culture. Did you picture gray people with a gray culture, constrained by pages and pages of extremely detailed, static processes and procedures?
If so, that’s a mindset born of outdated, legacy approaches to business process management. It results in a view of process as a complex, separate documentation and audit activity, rather than one that sees process as a fundamental component of doing business and an enabler of business improvement and innovation.Fueling Innovation
Innovative organizations know that their process knowledge needs to keep up with their creativity. That means processes that not only keep up with how teams truly do things but where the ownership of know-how is also shared with the right people in the business.
That way, everyone becomes aware of their knowledge assets and can challenge them, debate them, revise them and use them daily. In short, organizations should be using processes to fuel, not inhibit innovation.Providing Needed Structure
Charles Araujo, principal analyst at Intellyx, expressed a similar sentiment in a recent whitepaper entitled The Innovation Map: How to Create Disruptive Innovation in a Complex Digital World. In it he notes, “It’s not a lack of creativity that stifles innovation, but rather fear, vagueness and ambiguity. When team members are unsure of how things work, they hesitate to take risks or suggest new ideas.”