@OvoInnovation on Balancing Innovation and Efficiency

Renee Hopkins's picture
Chat Date: 
Thu, Feb 02, 2012

Our guest this week is Jeffrey Phillips (@ovoinnovation), author of the popular blog Innovate On Purpose and of the recently released book Relentless Innovation (my review is here; @DrewCM's is here).

Here's Jeffrey's framing post and questions for this week's chat:

Perhaps one of the most significant challenges for innovation is the fact that many firms have spent years, if not decades, creating business models and operating processes that are exceptionally efficient and effective.  Management theory and methods that support efficiency and effectiveness have been implemented and refined throughout many large organizations.  These methods include trusted capabilities such as Six Sigma, Lean, and outsourcing. 

But what this constant refinement of the business model has done is to create a one-trick pony, good at developing very incremental ideas that achieve short-term results, but failing to create and implement ideas with more radical consequences. In fact, one can argue that the existing efficient models actually reject most interesting or radical ideas, since they don’t “fit” within the established framework.

Is “business as usual” a barrier to innovation? This is the key concept I explore in Relentless Innovation – that most firms have built a reliable business model that sustains efficiency and effectiveness, but which inadvertently blocks much innovation.  Do the models we’ve created to achieve short-term financial success create barriers for innovation?

Questions for this week:

  1.  Has the focus on efficiency and effectiveness created barriers to innovation?
  2. Are tools like Lean and Six Sigma beneficial for innovation – especially radical or disruptive innovation – or are they reinforcing a short-term efficiency focus?
  3. What is the appropriate balance, if any, between efficiency and innovation?
  4. Is it possible to shift from “business as usual” to “innovation business as usual”?

NOTE: Transcript for this chat is attached to this framing post below.


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