Many books talk about the diffusion of innovation and the division of the population into a bell curve of innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. A person in the innovators or early adopters category, some books suggest, will have the latest television, be the first to get the newest mobile telephones, and be up to date on the latest and greatest products.
I have a Panasonic tube television manufactured in the nineties. My phone is a BlackBerry Storm. I am sorry to say that my iPad is gen 1 and still has iOS 4. And yet, many people remark on how innovative my team is with technology. So what gives?
In a word: focus.
IT management needs to be sharply focused on their value proposition. Mine is delivering technology at the nexus of business value, team passion, and team skill. The value proposition effectively splits a team into eight states. On the low side, a particular area can be anywhere between low value, low passion, low skills and high value, high passion, and high skills.
Focus innovative thinking on only areas that drive high value. This takes discipline. I would like more than anything to tinker with a new phone, try out a new iOS, maybe write an app or two. However, we deal with finite resources and limited time. By conserving energy for areas that really drive value, we can be more innovative in ways that are more effective.
Below are the value proposition and the corresponding diffusion of innovation.
- Low value, low passion, low skills. Laggard: put in the least amount of resources.
- Low value, low passion, high skills. Late majority: how can we meet this need by practicing our skills?
- Low value, high passion, low skills. Late majority: how can we scratch the itch and satisfy the need?
- Low value, high passion, high skills. Early majority: we have the interest and know-how. Use it.
- High value, low passion, low skills. Early majority: partner but move quickly.
- High value, low passion, high skills. Early adopter: create excitement thru being innovative.
- High value, high passion, low skills. Early majority: be a fast follower to build skills.
- High value, high passion, high skills. Innovators: give the process your full attention.