One of the most common questions I get from people is how to sort through the overwhelm of choices they face about what to do next. There is a constant flow of new ideas, including from people like me, which is all very useful in its place. However, if you’re already struggling it can just add to the sense of overwhelm.
In a new book called The Innovation Delusion, the authors talk about how our obsession with finding the next big thing has distracted us from the work that matters most. They make a distinction between actual innovation and what they call ‘innovation-speak’.
Innovation-speak is where we’re talking more and more about innovation, but there’s no evidence that there actually is more and more innovation.
Governments, industry organisations and the media like to amplify the idea that innovation is the answer and others should be taking more risk. Meanwhile, the reality is that innovation-speak distracts us from really crucial things, including the work of just keeping things going and valuing the people who do that work.
It makes no sense to blindly apply the fail often/fail fast approach used by a Silicon Valley technology start-up with every type of organisation.
We too easily get distracted by talking up and pursuing new things instead of fixing what we already know is important. Leaders and organisations often don’t need new reports, workshops or data to see what needs improvement.
We can start with a policy of only adding new tactics if they give you better results than existing ones that you can then drop.
Valuing shiny new things has become a distraction. A viable option for many organisations is to apply the pareto principle and start concentrating more on keeping the technology and tactics you already have up and running, rather than always looking for the next new thing.