If you are running an organization of any kind then making it more efficient is a key priority. It is important to speed up processes, eliminate waste, improve quality, reduce costs and generally please customers. And if you work hard at it you can do all of these things. But it is also important to prioritise innovation – finding new products and services and new ways to do things.
The trouble is that if you focus too hard on efficiency then you can easily neglect innovation. Sorting out today’s operational wrinkles has an immediate payback but experimenting with new products and methods takes time and effort. It has an uncertain future payback. So we tend to spend most of our time solving today’s efficiency issues. The temptation is always to work on improving current products and systems rather than finding new ones. After all, we know that the current process works so if we can make it work better we will get better outcomes. We can have no similar certainty about the results of innovation efforts. Also innovation involves trying things that don’t work. That looks wasteful – and we all hate waste.
So here are eight reasons why you should prioritise innovation over efficiency.
Paul is a professional keynote conference speaker and expert facilitator on innovation and lateral thinking. He helps companies improve idea generation and creative leadership. His workshops transform innovation leadership skills and generate great ideas for business issues. His recent clients include Airbus, Microsoft, Unilever, Nike, Novartis and Swarovski. He has published 30 books on lateral thinking puzzles, innovation, leadership and problem solving (with over 2 million copies sold). He also acts as link presenter at conferences and facilitator at high level meetings such as a corporate advisory board. He has acted as host or MC at Awards Dinners. Previously, he was CEO of Monactive, VP International of MathSoft and UK MD of Ashton-Tate. He recently launched a series of podcast interviews entitled Insights from Successful People.