The Innovative Enterprise: Losing Sight of the Job?


James M. Connolly, Editor of All Analytics

Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than two decades. As editor of All Analytics he writes about the move to big data analytics and data-driven decision making. Over the years he has covered enterprise computing, the PC revolution, client/server, the evolution of the Internet, the rise of web-based business, and IT management. He has covered breaking industry news and has led teams focused on product reviews and technology trends. Throughout his tech journalism career, he has concentrated on serving the information needs of IT decision-makers in large organizations and has worked with those managers to help them learn from their peers and share their experiences in implementing leading-edge technologies through publications including Computerworld. Jim also has helped to launch a technology-focused startup, as one of the founding editors at TechTarget, and has served as editor of an established news organization focused on technology startups and the Boston-area venture capital sector at MassHighTech. A former crime reporter for the Boston Herald, he majored in journalism at Northeastern University.

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Re: It Depends
  • 9/24/2017 11:43:27 PM
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@Broadway - agree that nurses make decisions. They need to be able to do a lot of thinking to do their job well. My point is that I agree with Jim - there are many roles where execution is 90% of the whole job. Following we'll-established procedures to the letter every time. Hundreds or even thousands of times.

In some of these jobs there is a lot of thinking and decision making. But the must-have skill isn't innovation but reliable execution.

Re: It Depends
  • 9/24/2017 8:19:10 PM
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Solid company cultures place many of their "hidden" employees in positions where they have to make decisions on their own. They may not call for innovative solutions but even a nurse will be called upon daily to make hundreds of calls every day that impact care.

Re: Good performers, innovators, and disruptors
  • 9/24/2017 7:12:47 PM
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@Lyndon. I like that distinction between "disruption" and "innovation". I think a lot of the talk about innovation is focused more on disruption. So, if innovation is about doing today's job better (suggesting a new approach to trouble ticketing) and preparing for the future, maybe disruption is striving to be the next uber (creating a new business model).

Both are important, but for most workers, innovation (as defined above) is the priority. 

Good performers, innovators, and disruptors
  • 9/24/2017 5:59:22 PM
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..

Jim has raised an excellent issue when he writes in his blog post: "Plenty of people in almost every organization need to be judged simply on whether they do their jobs well." The points about contrasting a constant mandate for innovation with the value of just doing an established job – task, assignment, whatever – well are valuable.

But let me point out that a kind of new animus has begun emerging – disruption. The drive for innovation has been starting to morph into a drive for "disruption". You've got to find ways to disrupt the existing way of doing things. If you can't find a way to disrupt what you're involved in, the way your task is performed, or even what your task is ... you're falling behind, you're becoming obsolete.

Obviously, major new concepts (like the Therory of Relativity) or technological innovations (telephone, motor vehicle, antibiotics) have been "disruptive" – they've disrupted established ways of doing things but have opened better ways and more opportunities and benefits. But I'm having a problem with this frenetic new emphasis of disruption almost for its own sake. 

Especially as it affects individual users and consumers, like, say, me.

..

Re: It Depends
  • 9/24/2017 4:31:51 PM
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Exccellent points. While we tend to reward those folks who are super visible; the top guys and gals, the ones who stick out with innovation and direction changing, we forget that the mainstay of the organization is those many many more who just charge on doing what they are hired to do in the most effective ways. Wouldn't it be great to honor and reward those "behind" the scenes who do 90 percent of the work and maybe get 10 percent of the honor and rewards?

Re: It Depends
  • 9/24/2017 12:07:57 AM
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I'm in agreement that there are, and will continue to be, roles where innovation is not required.

Nurses for example - I don't want a nurse to be too innovative. "Hmmm, the Doctor suggested this, but I'm going to try that." No good. The military example is excellent - you job is to follow orders, not to understand them. There are many important roles like this in various industries.

It would be incorrect to say there can't be an innovative nurse or general. What I'm saying is that in many jobs, the priority should be on execution, not innovation.

Re: It Depends
  • 9/23/2017 1:41:02 PM
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..

In his blog article, Jim writes

For many valuable employees, their use of data is reflected not in innovation on their own part, but in things like how the new trouble ticketing system makes their workday better, how best practices direct patient care, or a navigation system guides their truck around a traffic jam. It helps them do their jobs better.

Many workers just in their daily routine probably tend to introduce a lot of creativity into their jobs. You could say this is akin to innovation. 

..

Re: It Depends
  • 9/23/2017 7:58:36 AM
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I agree, plenty of jobs will remain fluid, but I think everyone has to approach their career assuming they will go through at least a couple of major career shifts over the course of 30-40 years. I'm not talking about changing employers while doing the same job or just picking up a new development language, but completely different careers. So, maybe the web developer might want to pick up a real estate license, or at least keep an eye on the "emerging jobs" that tech creates. Now that I think of it, web developer and web anything were the emerging jobs just 20 years ago.

It Depends
  • 9/22/2017 11:03:52 PM
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Jim, I think its a tricky question it depends on the job and the industry. I think some careers will become highly fluid while others that are not as interpretative will remain the standard job. Time will tell

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