Does Innovation Scale? Does Inhibiting Innovation Scale Better?
Vijay Vijayasankar (@vijayasankarv on twitter) asks in his recent blog, “Can Enterprise Software Innovation Be Industrialized?” Vijay explains that he used to believe it could, and gives a nuanced view on why he has lost that belief. Specifically, he asks, why doesn’t innovation seem to scale?
I’d like to throw a quick idea into the discourse with this six minutes video response.
I respond with the suggestion to look at what prevents innovation, and if that scales, and whether or not it could be removed, with an analogy from neurology.
- I’m a slow writer and never would have managed to get it out of the door otherwise.
- It’s fun to explore this more conversational format, especially when an actual discourse is taking place.
Marilyn Pratt has taught me to accomodate those viewers and readers who don’t feel like watching a video. I understand because I also consume written text better than audio or video, so here are some quick notes:
- Maybe it’s not about innovation scales, but about whether or not the things that prevent innovation scale.
- Vijay’s blog post reminds me of a book by Neurologist Oliver Sacks I read some time ago.
- Brain damage can cause savant (genius) level abilities to surface.
- This happens when the injury destroys an inhibiting mechanism.
- The potential to perform at that level has been there along along but was kept on a leash by the inhibiting factor.
- This happens to ensure the overall functionality of the brain.
- There is a link to autism and the savant capatibities some autists display (see “Rain Man” for a popularized example).
- The potential for innovation is everywhere in the companies but so are inhibiting factors.
- Shoutout to Michael Bechauf who suggested Open Source as a driver for innovation through learning from each other, knowledge management, etc.
- Inhibiting factors scale very well: It’s easy to hire 5,000 bureaucrats.
- In the enterprise, an innovative layer may be underneath the inhibiting layer.
- Removing it can be difficult because the inhibiting mechanisms are there for a reason.
- But it might still be worth the price (more chaos) because the competitive advantage from innovation is crucial.