Monday, 14 March 2016

The Thing About Innovation

While I toured Australia....I noted in various newspapers and via the nightly news that the current government (a coalition deal) was hyping up one of their ideas.....innovation.

The head of the government had appointed a board and were going to hold meetings....on encouraging innovation.  They'd even set aside money for television advertisements.....encouraging people to think of new ideas and report them to the government.  What does the board talk about?  Mostly nothing.  I get the impression they talk up new science articles they read in some magazine or discuss the upcoming Microsoft upgrades.  They all wish that they'd had that Billy Gates kid born in Melbourne and doing his wiz-bang computer stuff in a garage there, but it just didn't happen that way.
In an amusing one much really believes this is some legitimate program.  Most folks identify it as simply a bogus way to carry on some conversation and suggest that the government is going to do things of a scientific and marvelous engineering nature.

Every time you stand and talk about innovation in some company or within some organization....the chief theme (I know because I've stood there and watched these unfold) is risk.  You are betting some fair amount of money, time, sweat and effort that this new idea or concept will be the 'perfect wave'.  Fake enthusiasm gets generated....some boss is all charmed-up by the hyped talk, and then you got change coming.  Six months kinda admit that this innovation phase was more of a failure than a success.

In some ways, I'd just like for people to be less naive and witless.  If you had some process with sixteen steps, and it's pointless for one or two of these steps.....then dump them.  Instead of buying a marginal $120 office chair which doesn't improve worker productivity much....why not spend the $450 and get some ergonomic chair with a dozen positions?  If six-percent of your work-force is incompetent and too lazy to work....lay them off.  If you got some manager who hasn't shown any initiative in six years.....maybe it's time to let him go.

Where does this Australian effort go?  I'm guessing that the university crowd are pestering the government for some money for various projects.  A grant here....there, and down the line, you wake up to realize that you've given away a billion dollars without any real adult leadership over what the innovation is about.  Three years from now....people will ask....what was that chatter about innovation from the government all about, and the Australian news people will just grin and suggest some sheep scandal or new puppet show coming up soon.