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your comments about leadership "buy-in" are on the spot and accurate; without the commitment to invest in innovation, it cannot flourish. Thank you for replying.
that is a great way to think about it, and I think I like your approach. Instead of using management reserves, let's budget initially for being able to mature the process, or improve the product, or service, and innovation will come at no additional, unscheduled cost. It is a great way to provide added value to stakeholders, and the project team has to be at the forefront of the effort, completely agree. Great thoughts.
firsthand, I echo your thoughts. In my experience, the verbal commitment to innovation, which most organizations are starting to adopt, has to come with a financial and cultural commitment as well. Without it, it is not significant, and even disingenuous. As a project manager, internal or external, it is good to understand the difference in organizations you laid out so well, prior to undertaking the project.
very interesting thoughts. You bring up the Law of Diminishing Returns, which is one of those things that we, as PMs, understand, but management and leadership, especially if there is a culture of "overworking", may not. Understanding the political nature of the organization, and its limitations, as Luis mentioned, is really key to understanding how you can define innovation, and what you can deliver. My experience is that this is a process that truly works in two manners: top down, where the leadership understands the organizational and bottom-line benefits, and commits the needed resources, and bottom-up approach, where small tactical and team changes may reverberate through the organization, as the other parts of it see improved performance and results.
a future initiative? If the current project and anticipated future projects share the same stakeholders (including funding) I can see the attraction but (a big but) are the cost to the current project recovered on the next? The project manager has to keep his eyes on the objective- deliver the project as effectively as possible.
I like the article on innovation. When I was at General Motors Diesel Division it was called an employee "suggestion" box. Any employee could make a suggestion as long as it wasn't in their field of responsibility. They could, but they would not be compensated if the suggestion was implemented with the associated cost savings. Employees were compensated 10% of what was saved, up to a maximum of CAN$200K (early 1990s). Several persons did receive the maximum compensation. PMs by "nature" (if they are any good) should promote and encourage a culture of continuous improvement, and as matter of fact, any project manager should be a aware of, and be a champion of Plan, Do, Check, Act (i.e. Deming Cycle). We should all know by now, that the status quo is a death certificate, and as such we should all strive to "innovate" in order to adapt to the constantly changing landscape we live and work in.
For me the answer to that is you are describing a positive risk, an opportunity. This opportunity would be outside your current scope, or you would not ask how to handle it. You as project manager have 5 options of assigning a (project) strategy to that risk. You may accept it and do nothing (what most project managers regularly do, as part of their normally risk and change averse attitude), you may delegate it to your sponsor (but they might ask you why), you may find a partner to share the opportunity with, or you enhance or exploit the opportunity to make it a reality and gain more value.
If you were not a project manager but a program manager the latter (enhance) is full in your authority, as a project manager you should rise a change request to your CCB. As a program manager, your priority is to enhance benefits, not to keep the scope controlled.
I think every innovation should become a lessons learned and be handled by the manage knowledge process.
That's how real professions work (project management not yet) and humanity developed our capabilities.
Also, if you do not document and share your inventions, you never have an impact.
In order to be able to have innovations, there must be curiosity in the individual, which in turn is based on trust and needs free energy to think. Efficiency is an enemy of curiosity and therefor innovation.
Innovation can occur anywhere in a project, as there are often different processes, underlying risks, issues, constraints,cost drivers, etc. associated with those processes.
Blanchard and Fabrycky created a widely used diagram which overlays project cost, ability to make changes, total knowledge, and commitment. It shows how cost often gets locked in early and ability to change decreases greatly over time. That tells us that innovation MAY be more effective early on. Sometimes however there are late processes such as verification and validation that create extremely costly errors and may be a prime area for innovation.
Innovation should be considered strategically and not all projects or situations make good opportunities. Pick your battles. On some projects, focusing on stability may be important to the organization. On other projects, there is a high focus on innovation to break the cost curve. On yet others, we find that something went wrong and our existing processes won't address it, so we must innovate just to have any chance of success.
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