re: How Do You Survive The Innovation Hamster Wheel?
Christopher Engel, a network infrastructure manager for the web solutions provider Conxeo, emailed me this reaction, which I paste here with his permission:
I read your article in this week's Information Week. It was an interesting piece but I think one thing that's often overlooked in the rush for innovation is the need to balance those interests against the instability which will be introduced by them. Those of us with an Engineering background tend to be familiar with just how quickly and completely complex systems can spin out of control and fail with the introduction of too many dramatic changes too quickly. Pretty much any organization of human beings fits the bill of a complex system. Process for innovation is necessary not just for keeping innovations running but to keep them from running amuck. That can sometimes be difficult to explain to folks who are naturally hungry for any advantage innovation can produce in this economic climate, but pacing and planning are important.
Folks in information management often need to walk a very fine line. There is an element in the human psyche that tends to resist any change. That's not tolerable because change is both necessary and inevitable. However, once motivated that psyche is equally capable of grasping franticly at any opportunity for change that comes within reach in order to attain some real or perceived benefit. That often doesn't work very well either. Even when changes individually produce positive effects, systems can only tolerate so much instability before they fail. It's the same principle that applies in medicine when a physician gradually increases doses of medication administered to a patient. Even though the medication provides an important benefit to the patient, the body needs time to adjust to the full dose, if it isn't allowed that time it can go into distress. Likewise, information management needs to balance the benefits of innovation with the necessities of stability to find an equilibrium between the two that allows an organization to change and continue to function well while it's changing. Process is really the only way to achieve that.