July 30, 2014

Too much to do, too little gets done

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Over at  Blogging Innovation a couple of weeks back, Braden Kelly authored a post entitled, “Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fatal Flaws.”

The article discusses the similarities between entrepreneurs and innovators, remarking that they have many attributes in common, but focuses on the need to identify potential fatal flaws early, so that they can be prioritized (you can’t fix everything!) and acted upon.  He states:

“Entrepreneurs and innovators share much in common, and successful entrepreneurs are often those capable of transforming useful inventions into valuable innovations.

Now, one thing that we all know to be true is that whether we are talking about the ideas of entrepreneurs or the ideas of innovators, people love to poke holes in anyone’s idea. And, when it is time to look for the fatal flaw of an idea, you have to harness this tendency of individuals, because you want to find the fatal flaw of an idea as early as possible…..

No idea is perfect, and so when you can identify the potential fatal flaws or the high hurdles that have to be overcome, you can challenge them, you can solve for them, you can unleash the passion of your team on trying to find a way around them. And the fatal flaws are always there, and the wise entrepreneur or innovator doesn’t ignore them or assume that they will overcome them at some point in the future, but instead invests energy upfront into both trying to identify the fatal flaws of their idea and into identifying whether they can isolate the solutions – before making further investments of human or financial capital into moving the idea forward.”

I found those comments to be powerful and extremely insightful.  I think we’re all guilty, at one time or another, of knowing a problem exists and – perhaps through denial, or time pressures, or simply not know what to do – we press forward with the problem only to have it blow up and create an even bigger mess than if we had dealt with the problem in the first place.  In a way, what we fail to do is engage our internal “innovation machines” when the problem is noticed and, instead, we give the problem much less than due attention.

If that’s true, the root of all innovation isn’t necessarily creativity, intelligence, training, skill or overall smarts — it’s simply the ability to admit a problem exists.  If we live in a way that prevents us from stopping to contemplate the problems we see, we end up pressing forward with “good enough” solutions – which is the antithesis of innovation.

The revelation brought to my mind by the article above and the in-class discussion is this – when we overburden our minds (and others’, too) with more tasking than can be handled, we encourage the use of familiar solutions and decrease the ability to explore, create and improve.

 

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