Sunday 28 April 2019

Cargo Cult - Innovation Center

Cargo Cult is serious problem in Software industry. I think Innovation center is example of cargo cult.
In this post i will share my views on innovation center.

Cartoon: man carrying ideas sees that door to Innovation Centre is closed.
Innovative Idea killer

People think Innovation center is cool place to work but many thing or almost every thing done at innovation center fails.

Why innovation center is open ?

It is hard to innovate at current place because of process , ceremony, approval & permission etc, so what company/team do is "Lets open Innovation labs" or "Innovation initiative, rather than fixing real problem that are causing friction this new innovation thing is started to feel better.
Teams are changing the way they behave not how they think.

This labs are nothing more than expensive press release stunts and it adds no value.

No alignment with product road map
It does not align with product road map or big mission and it runs on parallel/side track that is not going to meet to main track.

It is new, interesting , shiny but never scales and finally team does tell "How do we launch this ?"

Thinking of "New" . It has to new thing , new brand , new experience  , new tech stack etc. This new thing will never fit in old (i.e product roadmap), so no one wants it.

Working for wrong customer
Work for board of director or executive that sings the cheque for these labs. Team starts working for wrong customer (i.e executive or press) and ignore the real customer.

Unfulfilled dream
You get all the creative people for these labs and very soon they have unfulfilled dream that nothing gets used by real customer. Team gets frustrated and burn out.
It becomes mental gymnastics that goes no where and to make it worse learning/failures are not passed to real delivery team that will make it production ready.

Too much of freedom
Balance is missing in innovation labs and they always run on exploration/experiment mode and does not get close to exploiting the learning.
Too much process makes you slave and no process/structure makes free fall. Finding right balance is important.

Image result for balance innovation 

No credibility 
Very soon innovation team loose all the credibility and people ask question like
 - Why are they doing this ?
 - What are they producing ?
 - Why they don't come and talk to tech teams ?
innovation team moral is crushed .

Idea development is not inclusive

Any product that is successful in market needs 3 things it should be feasible, desirable & profitable.
Feasible is where tech team comes in and confirms that it is feasible to build the product.
Desirable is design team that confirms whether any one want it or not.
Profitable is product team looking from financial/brand gain.

In most of the ideas driven by innovation team all 3 groups are not partner and in case if they are then one of them is dominating due to which needle is not moved in right direction.

Change innovation as spectacle to innovation as strategy to build better products. 
Keep innovating :-)