My good friends Renee Hopkins, Gwen Ishmael and Drew Marshall allowed me to moderate Innochat last week. If you aren’t familiar with Innochat, it is an organized Tweetchat, focused on a specific topic. People who are interested in participating just need to follow the hashtag #innochat. Innochats are typically scheduled each Thursday at noon EST. You can learn more about Innochat on the website.
The topic last week was “balancing innovation and efficiency” which is the basis for Relentless Innovation. Both efficiency and innovation are important, but I believe that the vast majority of management attention and emphasis has been placed on efficiency in the last few years. Relentless innovators demonstrate that a balance between innovation and efficiency isn’t just desirable, it’s actually possible.
During the Innochat we had a range of commentators who offered their perspectives and insights. I believe that Six Sigma, Lean and other factors that promote greater efficiency unintentionally create barriers for innovation. Some commentators thought that was fair, others felt that Six Sigma is good for incremental innovation, and some thought Lean could be used for greater innovation purposes. One concept we circled around was whether or not too much focus on these tools created mindsets and perspectives that were too focused on fixing what exists, rather than creating something new. Or whether cost cutting and efficiency efforts create a short term mentality.
Note that I’m not advocating a reduction in focus on efficiency and effectiveness, but an increased focus on innovation. Good firms must use inputs and resources efficiently, but increasingly they must accelerate the development of new products and services through innovation. What we are advocating is a return to a balance between efficiency and innovation.