Innovation killed by process

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I got sucked into a dispute yesterday between someone who had clearly spent a lot of time and effort formulating a strategy to connect people and departments working towards formulating polices for children’s services across the local government sector. For those not familiar with how things work (or not, as the case may be) in the UK public sector, this should be recognised as a truly innovative approach – i.e., establishing an environment for peer collaboration without the constraints of geographical boundaries or politics (with a small ‘p’) – in other words a Community of Practice.

The poor chap had been struggling to get this initiative launched for some time, and had been knocked back by “the management” who were more concerned about his use of vocabulary in the supporting documents he had produced describing what a CoP was.

I wonder why, if things look fairly simple (and there’s nothing remotely complex in developing a community of practice), we insist on building processes around it until it becomes so complex that (a) only qualified ‘experts’ can do it properly, and (b) it can only be implemented if it is part of some corporate ‘grand plan’.

I offered encouragement to the chap who was struggling against this tide of bureaucracy, but regrettably I was not empowered to make a difference for him.

This reminded me of quote I read on Euan Semple’s blog recently about innovation…..

Innovation becomes possible whenever and wherever the right combination of need and solution arises without being killed stone dead by process”.

I fear that in this instance, process has once again brutally murdered a good idea!

About Post Author

Stephen Dale

I’m a life-long learner with an insatiable curiosity about life. I love travel, good food, and good company. I’m happy to share what I know with others….even the interesting stuff! My outlook on life is pretty well captured in this quote from a book about the legend of King Arthur: “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” ― T.H. White, The Once and Future King So much to learn, so little time!
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