Innovation sourced from standard processes?

Innovation from the everyday

Innovation from the everyday

In a MBA class last year I took the following note during a lecture:

Drucker – creativity and innovation driven off standard process

This week I found that note in a review of some materials and thought it would be a good topic for further thought. Peter Drucker lists process need as one of seven sources of innovation in his book Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Drucker’s thought makes sense to me. From experience I know that standard processes tend to grow over time to:

  • Account for items previously not thought of or missed
  • Cover new regulations or contractual obligations
  • Add steps for quality assessment

Standard processes also tend to grow stagnant over time and often lose touch with other changing business forces. When this happens, people feel confined within the boundaries of the process. The worst case scenario is when a customer is confined by rules of a process and it does not meet their needs. See my open letter to cell phone providers for some good examples on standard processes not serving customers.

So when this happens. Innovation sets in because in general people want to help their customers.  Standard processes that block customer focus within an organization are prime candidates for innovative thought. The innovation can help by:

  • Reducing complexity – An example is when theme parks came up with a seasons pass offering. Instead of requiring their customers to pay for each visit, they came up with a process for a single transaction that gave the customer the ability to reduce their payments as well as get a volume discount.
  • Reduce cycle times – The Toyota Production System has received alot of attention based on its ability to reduce the cycle time create a new automobile.
  • Resolving items found in customer feedback – I’d like to think that AT&T rollover minutes came from customer feedback regarding purchasing minutes they did not use.

Do you agree with Drucker? Do we find new innovative ways of thinking while going the everday ho-hum?

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