Merge's Blog

Continuous innovation can be just as (more) effective than disruptive innovation

Daniel Debow, SVP at Salesforce.com and my fellow columnist at The Globe & Mail, recently wrote about the difference between disruptive and continuous innovation in Innovation does not have to be a ‘big bang’ event.  His point: there is a misconception that innovation arrives in the form of some amazing and unique technology or revolutionary product that is the first of its kind, what he refers to as disruptive innovation.  And while disruptive innovation certainly occurs, it tends to be less common than many people realize.  In fact, most innovation is continuous – people trying to change accepted norms and improve how things are done in small ways.  Continuous innovation is repeatedly trying new things on a small scale before implementing them company-wide.  And it’s these small improvements that can snowball into greater change and ultimately into quantum transformation.

Daniel offers two suggestions to create an innovative culture in your department or organization – one, celebrate failures, and two, don’t think you have to be first in the world to do something to be called innovative, doing it for the first time in your organization is innovative too.  In other words, watch and learn from other organization’s successes.  Both of these actions require leaders to be open-minded though, and I think that’s where we often get into trouble.  The truth is that while it’s easy to encourage staff to try new things, it’s a lot more difficult to keep your perspective (and your cool) when things don’t turn out exactly the way it was hoped or intended.

Does your organization’s/department’s culture encourage continuous innovation?  If not, what’s getting in the way?  Is it you, the leader?  Or something else?  Your thoughts welcomed.

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