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Process vs Innovation?

March 19th, 2009 by Jacob Ukelson

I was reading an interesting discussion on a BPM forum about whether innovation is a odds with process. If you understand process to be a rigidly structured, unchanged prescription of how work gets done, then there certainly is truth to that. The main task of those types of processes is to make sure work is standardized, and done the same way. Innovation is frowned upon.

On the other hand if you think of process as including ad-hoc and unstructured business processes - then processes actually help with innovation. If you can gain understanding of how things actually get done  (as opposed to how they are supposed to happen) - then you can use that insight to generate innovation.

Take any structured process (e.g. CRM), and look at the work it generates outside of the system (for example via email). Sometimes the work is really an odd ball one off. But in other cases (especially if it repeats itself) it may be an indication of a new unfufilled need, or a change in the environment that should be handled. Exactly the kind of input you need to create useful innovation.

I think companies are loosing a lot of potential innovation by not capturing and analyzing the exceptions to their main stream processes - I think they would be surprised by what they learn.

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One Response to “Process vs Innovation?”

  1. Jeff Says:

    Jacob .. totally agree. The opportunity to innovate and improve process is nearly bottomless. There isn’t a single BP that can’t be improved and as you say understanding exceptions is often a good way to do that. Sometimes,of course implementing the process change requires more investment than the resulting benefits …. but that’s a blog for a different day!

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