What is Your Innovation Style?

In a recent speech by Steve Blank delivered to the 2014 graduating class of ESADE’s MBA program, he asked the graduates to “embrace change and lead the way”. The speech was mostly about the implications technology has imposed on the business world and how we are in a time where we must innovate to survive.

You can read the full speech at: http://www.inc.com/steve-blank/commencement-speech-esade-business-school.html

I found it interesting that he broke down innovation into four different styles and it got me to thinking about two questions:

  • Which style of innovation are most government agencies striving for; and
  • What style of innovation should governments be focusing on?

Steve defined the four styles of innovation as follows:

  • Individual Initiative – Individuals submit ideas or have the freedom to spend time focusing on innovation through individual effort.
  • Process Improvement – Improvement to business process and removing unnecessary processes.
  • Continuous Innovation – Builds on current strengths by identifying new programs, products and/or services that expand overall value provided.
  • Disruptive Innovation – The creation of new programs, products or services that did not exist before that aim to disrupt current business practices.

I would imagine that many government agencies are looking across all levels of innovation but it is hard to tell when Innovation has such a broad context. I have often used innovation to describe “Process Innovation” and disruption to describe “Disruptive Innovation” because that seems to make more sense in my mind.

If you currently have an innovation strategy at your organization what style do you think is the primary focus? Do you think disruptive innovation has a place in government; and, does continuous innovation lead to excessive spending and or bloat? It would be interesting to hear others thoughts.

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Tim Nolan

We are a County Gov’t that is using Scrum in our a few of our groups (App Dev and GIS). Scrum is clearly a Process Improvement innovation type that can lead to Disruptive Innovation. Our Agile approach to applications is bleeding over to other key components of IT such as Operations and Infrastructure. In fact, our CIO has hinted that Scrum in particular can be used in Budget and Procurement where bureaucracy is rampant.

Tim Howell

That is awesome! I have always been impressed with Collin County and all of the great things you all have accomplished. I think the Scrum methodologies can be applied to many areas of government and produce the disruptive innovation you mentioned. I think the key here is not to focus on being disruptive and instead focus on Process Improvement because over time it can lead to great change but is a lot easier to implement and far lower risk.

Have you heard of the Agile in Government Linkedin group? I think someone with your expertise would be a great asset to that group. Would love to see your thoughts on some of the discussions taking place there. Check it out if you have not already: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Agile-in-Government-4263280

Thanks for your comments!