The Five Top Reasons Why IT Doesn’t Innovate

Seeking perfection: As Dr. David M. burns said: “Aim for success, not perfection.” IT often pushes back on new, ready implemented ideas because they aren’t perfect, or they don’t answer all of the needs immediately. In many cases, that adds unnecessary delays to projects that could be completed much faster by adding new functionality as needed.

Recent Microsoft Windows releases illustrate this very well: in order to

prevent more delays in XP and Vista releases, Microsoft decided to remove certain planned features because it took too long to implement them correctly. They forfeited perfection (e.g., all announced features) in favor of success (e.g., a new product out the door). This is a core tenet of agile programming—you don’t need to get it exactly right the first time. Set the ground work, implement the core features quickly in order to get early feedback. Then adjust according to the feedback.

In the course of seeking perfection over usefulness, IT may be perfecting something that the user does not want; making those efforts perfectly useless.

Not part of our mandate: When people are hired at Google, their managers are told that they should not book more than 80% of their time. Google offers their employees the ability to spend part of their time working personal projects. The idea is simple: somebody is going to come up with a bright idea that will help the company. By most accounts, Google stands out as one of today’s most innovative companies.

Yet, in most companies, management disapproves and discourages any type of unassigned work. Employees must work only on approved projects, and on specific tasks that have been dictated to them by their superiors. The problem occurs when the work that has been assigned is tedious or disliked by the employee.

People get motivation from the work they do. Bonuses, extra pay and other devices may help a little, but most of all people remain in their jobs because they like what they do. Giving them time to work on other things ensure that every week employees work on something they love and are passionate about. By doing so, you increase employee retention rates by keeping their motivation high, and you can reap benefits of seeing new ideas added to the corporate mix.

Companies that wish to survive into the next decade must come to grips with using innovation as a tool for success. Some of the best ideas will come not from management, but from IT programmers, clients, or other outsiders. The IT teams that will be seen as most valuable are the ones that are able to quickly apprise, investigate, and test such innovations in order to best serve a company’s vision, and most of all, its clients.

Laurent Duperval is the president of Duperval Consulting which helps individuals and companies improve people-focused communication processes. He may be reached at mailto:[email protected] or 514-902-0186.