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Why Our Innovations Fail UsYet the media telling of the story makes it sound as if ideation—the creation of ideas—is 90% of the work of innovation. Ideation has produced many inventions that never became innovations because no one adopted them. Many people are misled by stories that inaccurately equate innovation with invention. People who believe these stories put too little effort into adoption and are disappointed by their low success rates. Why Our Theories of Innovation Fail Us, Communications of the ACM, December 2015, By Peter J. Denning, Nicholas Dew.

Ouch. I guess the authors have never seen Fortune 50 companies or the US federal government trying to implement silver bullet after silver bullet.  Well, maybe they have.

Also see Seven Ways To Make That “Silver Bullet” Work

The problem I have always experienced in project after project was the rush to implement without ever fully understanding the idea that everyone wanted to put into place.  We would take the idea and then turn it into a checklist, then contract for training and then track the number of people trained and then … nothing.  We would then start all over again with the next big great idea that “everyone” else was already doing!

For more see Lead, Follow Or Get Out Of The Way

The challenge, instead, was to get folks to understand the idea first. Implementation and adoption always, in my experience, flowed much more easily when we fully understood what we were doing and why we were doing it.  True, it never made implementation any easier. Instead, it did make it easier to see what hard work still had to be done.  Once we understood what we were doing, then implementation and adoption happened as people could make independent decisions in their individual environments. They were able to do this without violating the purpose and intent of the new idea and hence they would still get the expected benefits.

Getting innovation working for us was always a balancing act between finding a reasonably good idea and then getting that good idea into reasonable practice.  When we leaned too hard one way or another we inevitably failed.  The hard part then was finding a person or team who had the experience and judgement needed to find that balance and then to let them go and make it happen.

Finally see The One Perfect Project Management Methodology

How is your project doing at balancing between understanding and adoption of your innovation?

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