Three myths about innovation that need to be debunked
One of the fundamental things that defines me as a business professional, and our company RAPA, is operating in an atmosphere of realistic thinking. This week, I wanted to share my thoughts on innovation in IT and how realistic thinking can help it succeed.
Every IT leader knows they need to innovate. Yet those same IT leaders can be frightened of innovation. They might fear that if the changes they propose don’t work out, their job is on the line.
Too often, fear holds people back and they justify their inaction by clinging to myths. If we use realistic thinking, we can debunk some of these myths rather quickly and see that they should not be barriers to innovation.
Here are three myths about innovation I think IT leaders need to forget about.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
The idea that you should not change something that works is not true.
The reason is simple: Old systems are less efficient, and they cost more to run and maintain than new ones.
This is true of everything from IT services to cars.
Yes, your old clunker (car or IT system) still works. But it’s less efficient than new models, parts are increasingly hard to find, and the technicians who know how to install those parts are rare and more and more expensive.
And the day it breaks down for good, it’s going to paralyze your operations. Will you be able to transfer data to a new system? Who knows? How much will it cost each day it takes to get up and running on a new system and how long before your teams are proficient in its use and support? The cost will be significant; how big is your contingency fund?
So update and upgrade before you’re forced to; it’s ultimately cheaper.
Innovation is always expensive
It is simply not true that it always costs more to innovate.
The fact is, there are a lot of costs buried in your legacy systems – costs you don’t even know about. That’s in part because they are hard to quantify, and also because doing things in a certain way has become so ingrained in the company culture that no one questions it.
Innovating will increase cost efficiencies in the company, and those efficiencies will more than pay for themselves.
For example, if you become more sophisticated in software asset management, you will save money because you will have more control of over the software you are purchasing and using; it will cost less – it’s that simple.
You can save money by outsourcing
You may, in the short term and on paper. But these may be phantom savings, as outsourcing can create huge headaches.
What if the company you’ve outsourced to tells you after six months that it can’t do the job unless you upgrade to the next level and pay more?
Think outsourcing will reduce your responsibilities? Most IT organizations don’t understand that they are still accountable even if they outsource.
What if it just doesn’t work out with the company you’ve outsourced to? You’ve just laid off that department’s staff. How do you rebuild? The same questions apply if the company you’ve outsourced to goes bankrupt.
The reality is that even if you think you can delay innovation, you can’t. The world is changing, and the longer you wait to innovate, the more out of step you get, the harder you’ll have to work to get back up to speed and the more it will cost.
Susan Odle is chief operating officer and managing partner at RAPA Consulting. She has been in enterprise IT for over two decades, is ITIL Foundation V3.5 certified, enjoys anything outdoors with family and music (playing, singing and listening).