In a world where cultures are judged by the art they leave behind it is just fine to create art for no other reason than to create art. In doing so we are saying something about our culture. We are saying we value creativity, exploration and diversity. These are important concepts culturally and they are of course enduring. Does the same ring true for innovation?
We have never lived in a time with more innovation. It is true that there have been periods when innovation delivered more seemingly important things – the wheel for example… Or more amazing things – Man on the moon and all that… Or more impressive things – The pyramids but when you look at innovation by volume – now is the time.
We are seeing rapidly iterating innovations from companies who are fighting desperately to keep ahead of the innovation curve. As soon as a company ceases to innovate they fall by the wayside and are replaced by leaner faster and more innovative organisations.
Every organisation that has ever hired a developer and negotiated a scope document will suffer under the inflexibility of said document. It becomes impossible to change the scope causing innovation to cease. It creates an odd balance between innovation and ability to deliver on budget and on time. The scope doctrine is a polarised paradigm to deal with the tasks at hand. If the scope is not adhered to the launch of the product will be pushed back again and again as the product iterates and requires re-development. This is in direct opposition to the lean startup’s guiding principle that building something nobody wants is a waste of resources and verging on criminal.
So how do we find the balance? Is there another way of building projects? For starters developer flexibility is a function of resources and vision. If you negotiate a deal with a developer that is so lean that they are tied to the scope because every move from it causes financial burden you stifle innovation even before the development has begun. Of course sometimes there is no other way. If you are lucky and find a developer who is just passionate about the project, sees the bigger picture or is given the opportunity to invest in the product you can overcome this issue as it becomes less about profits and more about outcomes. We have all heard the horror stories… A fantastic product is never launched because it is “still not good enough”. This is bad and takes iteration and innovation too far.
So innovation for innovation sake is different to art for arts sake. It’s always a shame for a fantastic tech play never to see the light of day. Even the bad ones that are never launched are a loss because the inevitable pivot never comes and something wonderful is snuffed out.
Is the only real and enduring solution an in house developer who is working not to scope, but to feedback from real users of the product? They could then build what is actually wanted and know that the research on the product justifies the innovation.