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Is Non-Disruptive Innovation Better?

A recent Harvard Business Review blog post by Gary Pisano states that the excitement about disruptive innovation has blinded us to one simple irrefutable economic fact: The vast majority of profit from innovation does not come from the initial disruption; it comes from the stream of routine, or sustaining, innovations that accumulate for years."

Let's explore this notion for project or process management and people engagement.

A company that goes from no project management processes to an industry guideline or method could experience an internal disruptive innovation. For example, let's say your firm implemented the PMI PMBOK  guideline or the IIL UPMM methodology for project management, and imagine all projects going from chaos mode to a structured framework overnight. This could fundamentally transform the way projects are planned, executed, and delivered across your company. Assuming executives are committed, and assuming your employees adapt to change, the real value from your transformation will come from making your processes better and better over time. I call this sustaining micro innovative changes. This type of routine innovation comes from experience, lessons learned, and many small ideas that add up to real value. We all know the cost of project failures or projects that run over budget and deadlines. Fancy dashboards may tell you what is going wrong, but integrating sustainable, routine innovation will help chip away at going over budget, project lateness, and bad project results.

The second point is how disruptive and non-disruptive innovation affects your employees. A big bang transformation may stir up excitement for some and stress for others. However, a supported culture of reward and recognition for sustainable routine innovation can be a big morale booster. Think about an environment where your input is always encouraged, you're constantly challenged to be creative, and you're recognized for turning lessons learned into real change. As an enabler, consider a platform, such as a project and process management software, to help your people be more engaged with imagination, process improvement, and knowledge collaboration.

Mr. Pisano suggests you should consider an innovation strategy that includes both disruptive and routine innovation. He clearly states that the latter will produce more value over time. How can this be applied to your company? What is the cost of not having a sustainable, routine innovation culture?

Image by Steve