Don't innovate, just become better at knitting

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10 July 2014

An often overused and misunderstood word—innovation—is used to describe the desires and symptoms of a company's pain points without truly considering the meaning behind the word.

For some organisations a lack of overall vision and efficiency can lead to feelings of stagnation, a loss of purpose, and as if nothing is really happening. The symptoms are usually blamed on a lack of foresight, which is then attributed to a lack of innovation while the cost is a high attrition of both staff and clients.

The seemingly natural reaction is for management teams to encourage or demand that staff focus their attention on innovating, rather than improving. The circle continues. Delving a little deeper, what we find actually occurring is that the current processes and expectation of employees isn't defined clearly enough, nor are they empowered enough to complete the project swiftly. So, production is awkward, inefficient, and not conducive to a useful outcome; for clients or the company.

My experience in production has shown me that the areas most often overlooked are the basics. These things such as who is responsible for what, and just how much are we providing the client clarify immense amounts of structure for a project and without it we find management micro-manages the problem into a worse position.

Most clients aren't after an innovative service, they're after a considered and structure approach to solving the problem they're presented with (and the reason they're spending money). Chances are that all they want and ever will want is for you to give them exactly what you said you would.

Losing sight of this complicates the business and alienates clients along with staff. Innovation isn't going to address that.

All is not lost however, and with great process, ownership and understanding of production innovation will occur naturally while known processes are bedded down and the production team is given the ability to perform; and importantly own and make their own decisions.

Once the knitting is perfected we are able to rely on the consistency of production to organically innovate and provide a great breeding ground for ideation and outside of the box thinking; because the box is known.

Confusing a need for innovation with a dire lack of inefficiency is a great way to fail massively at improving.