Sep 9, 2010

Only clueless management lets technologists drive innovation

If you've worked in a technology firm for any length of time, you may have sensed that innovation within your company somehow never seems to be truly innovative. At some point, the company's developers take control and something that starts out as a relatively innovative and useful idea gets whittled down to a small incremental add-on feature that is not very exciting. The technical people all explain how difficult and even impossible it is to get something done, and you end up thinking that maybe there is something wrong with you and maybe you should be happy with this stupid little feature that they have come up with.

If this sounds familiar, cheer up! Even the big boys with lots of cash suffer from the same problems!

An article in the Telegraph reminded me of the frustrations I have had to deal with. The article looks at Google's new feature, announced with fanfare. Here's an excerpt from Google Instant: the technology anti-climax of the decade:

Google is faced on all sides with explosive growth from networks and platforms that aren't even indexable, let alone visible to Google for the purposes of ad sales, and it unveils a slightly faster way to get your search results? What am I missing here?

"Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly," said the boffins from Mountain View in their blog post announcing Google Instant.

So, after years of research, in response to the question, "What next for Google?," that's what all those billions of dollars and brain cells have come up with. Wow.

This is what you end up with when management puts innovation in the hands of the technologists. You can't count on technologists to understand the company's high level strategy and competitive threats. They think they do. But what they really understand is the code and how difficult it is to change things when legacy systems are involved.

Management that leaves innovation in the hands of technologists is management that doesn't have any clue where they are going. It is a dereliction of duty that most board members are incapable of even seeing.

The only worse thing is leaving innovation in the hands of salespeople. But that's another story.

I once read a rant like this from Steve Jobs but have never been able to find it again. It must be a passage from a book that I lost years ago.

1 comment:

Muhammad Atif said...

The article focuses on the importance of restoring people's faith in a currency, and simply gives one line to the absolutely necessary prerequisite: slowing down the creation of money.
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