Thursday, June 6, 2019

Nothing happens until something moves

Why do organizations need Innovation Programs ? It's a very broad question and my intention in this blogpost is to share just one perspective around it.

A short sentence answer to this question would be 'beating inertia'.

BlackBerry (from RIM) used to be prominent mobile devices for Enterprises in early 2000s (or around that time). I recall one of the key differentiating features it had was encrypted messaging. In those days, it used to be almost a sign of progression to be owning one of BlackBerrys. However, it wasn't just messaging that end-users liked, it had it's own fan-base for it's physical keyboard. The keyboard was ergonomically designed and one of the best (yet) that i have used in mobile devices. My father recently brought a Blackberry just for ease of use physical keyboards provides.

The team at Blackberry obviously had developed expertise in the physical keyboards. And when the whole world started moving towards soft-keyboards with Nokias and Apples coming in competition, Blackberry was slow to make the shift. They waited, probably because of the expertise they had built that eventually became self-limiting when the competition inspired people to move towards soft keyboards. They did come up with Blackberry Storm, but it probably was a bit late in the game.

Dictionary defines Inertia as "a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force."
It is a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.

In organization's context, inertia sets in for various reasons. If we take the example of Blackberry into consideration, inertia was caused, possibly by:

1. Blackberry reached the phase of product acceptance by users, with product-market fit happened a long ago. 
2. Engineers and designers achieved expertise in certain way of doing things. Their own expertise blocked their way to achieve break-through thinking.

Like in sports they say, never change a winning combination. Likewise, in case of Blackberry the combination that caused them to win the markets couldn't hold up to changing times. In short, organizational inertia held them back.
The more we are successful in one era, the more our current methods come in our way of success when it is the time to embrace the changing times.

To come back to the question that i asked in the beginning: Organizations need Innovation programs that can help them use the collective mind-power of workforce to come up with the ideas that question the status-quo.

Like Albert Einstein said: "Nothing happens until something moves."

Credits: The post and the examples covered within are inspired from the Coursera course titled: Strategic Innovation: Managing Innovation Initiatives
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