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When too much innovation is more than enough

You can tell when a message has reached the mainstream when the Prime Minister latches on. This week I even heard a crossbench senator talking about digital disruption!

It’s official ladies and gents. The pace of change has never been higher, the days when we could ignore it are long past. Innovate or die is the catch cry.

And who are we to disagree? Centred around the practice of most of my close colleagues and collaborators is the belief in continuous (constant) improvement. Helping companies implement change has been a major part of my business for 15 years.

So you might be a bit worried about me if I start arguing for the other side.

Here’s my problem. This is all good stuff to tell to large corporations and well established organisations. They really need some help to free up old models and get moving.

We like to help those people. We have some great team workshops and activities to help foster innovation and agility.

But for many years we’ve been working with fast growing companies too.

Here’s the big news – you don’t need to tell entrepreneurs to innovate or die! Most of the time you need to tell them to slow down and give their people a chance to get page 1 of the list done, before they start writing page 20 or so.

Most entrepreneurs are in a hurry, they are focused on the future and they can’t wait to get there. They frequently don’t see obstacles until they run into them and it’s quite likely they simply don’t understand how long it takes to do things. Their constant interest in innovation often means their people have hardly started the last idea when they move on to the next one.

Oh and by the way, be prepared for lots of things to change as you go along.

If not addressed, the usual outcome is some kind of crisis. A key person leaves, a staff member has a meltdown, conflict erupts over something apparently unrelated, team morale plummets.

While there are remedies for these crises too, they always cost you money and time.

I am all for agility and innovation – but unless this issue is addressed at an early stage – it will end in tears. Getting the dialog going is the first step to a better process. Let me know if you are interested in talking further.

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