There’s always a gap between the short-term results of a well-polished system and the first results of a switch to a more efficient one.
If you stick with that thing you’ve worked so hard to perfect, the next few hours or weeks or months will surely outperform the results you’ll get from the new thing. That’s because there are switching costs, glitches and a learning curve.
The end result is that organizations that choose to switch are usually the ones with the least to lose. The upstarts and the outliers. One reason they’re always leapfrogging the market leaders.
One way to stay innovative is to understand that this gap exists and to budget for it. Denying it won’t make it go away.
Seth Godin, on the money, as ever. It’s not a new thought, of course – it’s a crisp restatement of the innovator’s dilemma – but no less valuable for that. Arguably, governments haven’t been much affected by the innovator’s dilemma within the memory of anybody currently in government, not because governments are immune to change, but because there has been a long period of relative stability in two key variables which affect government: the one-to-many model of mass communications and the command and control model of large scale operational delivery.
Once we drop the assumption that those two variables continue unchanged, everything looks different. Government won’t be – isn’t – the first sector to feel the heat from the consequences of the collapse in the cost of information creation and distribution, but it will feel that heat.
Clay Shirky brings that to life in this TED talk, speaking entirely not coincidentally at the State Department in Washington. Powerful food for thought here for every official and every politician in every government.