Yesterday was a high holiday on the technophile calendar with the latest Apple launch event. New icons for the altar of the neophiles.
So many articles focus on “innovation” and “embracing failures” is often a theme in those examinations. But innovation for innovation’s sake is not really the objective. What we are really seeking are “positive outcomes” (on a micro, tactical level), and “progress” (on a macro, strategic level). Innovation is just a tool for that progress.
Curiously enough (since he normally weighs in heavily for Leadership over Management), Seth Godin makes a compelling appeal for the importance of Management (ie. averting downside by respecting “what works”) in the face of excessive pandering to new and shiny in his post Neophilia as a form of hiding :
- “Every once in a while someone will say to me, ‘yeah, sure, I’ve heard that before… what do you have that’s new?’ In contemporary art or movies, it makes perfect sense to be focused on the bleeding edge, on the new idea that’s never been previously contemplated. But when we’re discussing our goals, our passion and the way we interact with the culture, it seems to me that what works is significantly more important than what’s new. Racing to build your organization around the latest social network tool or graphics-rendering technology permits you to spend a lot of time learning the new system and skiing in the fresh powder of the unproven, but it might just distract you from the difficult work of telling the truth, looking people in the eye and making a difference. ‘I can’t describe the value we deliver, I’m too busy integrating this new technology into my workflow!’ All too often, the ones who are aggressively seeking the theory of the day don’t have a lot to show for what they did yesterday.”
I definitely confronted this syndrome at Microsoft where senior executives were constantly wanting to hear about everyone’s colourful rain dance rather than the boring mechanics of the success achieved.
Leaders seek what’s new, Managers seek what works. Both together achieve progress.