Innovation is always associated with coming up with new solutions to existing problems ; the definition of the word confirms it: innovation is described as “the introduction of something new; a new idea, method, or device” .If you are successful creating and introducing newness, you are a respected member of the creativity crowd, and the rewards follow your achievements. Adding stuff and consuming additional resources gets the attention, and enhancing value is defined by introducing new products and services and adding new technical functionality. And in fact many organizations reinforce this bias by having entire teams dedicated to new product and service development.The flip side of the coin, however, “gets no respect”. This is the side of the coin that seeks to removes stuff — takes stuff away, cuts, and deletes. The flip side of the coin has DNA based on the need to subtract not add.We should start to recognize the importance of deleting the no-longer-relevant by changing the old school definition of innovation.
New school innovation
New school innovation — ”The introduction of something new or the elimination of something deemed no longer relevant; a new or obsolete idea, method, or device.”
This new definition of innovation is based on the principle of creating additional value
in whatever fashion is appropriate at the time.And deleting the no-longer-relevant adds HUGE value and yet it’s not on a par with its add-the-new cousin. Take a look at your own personal life
. How much junk do you have in your closet? How much stuff do you have that you never use but can’t part with? And how good do you feel — and how much more effective are you at using the space you have available — when you have a purge day and open up all that room that you can use for today’s prized possessions?
Managers of irrelevance
In organizations, procedures, practices, systems, products and services all fall victim sooner or later to irrelevance. Markets change, customer needs change and priorities change, leaving irrelevance in their wake. The problem is no one pays attention to this lack of usefulness because the people performing the irrelevant tasks never pony up
. They are the LAST people who will admit that what they are doing should be axed.And leadership doesn’t spot irrelevance easily because they have more lofty strategic goals to pursue. It’s no wonder that a small group of employees maintaining a system that has lost its usefulness is missed while leadership is paying attention to guiding the actions necessary to complete a strategic partnership transaction or enter a new market.If only organizations could delete the stuff they no longer need and observe the added value they could produce.In government, absolutely ZERO resources are assigned to mining out the no-longer-needed. When’s the last time you remember a social program of any sort being phased out? Talk about health care — budgets go up and feed a system that needs deletion and resurrection.We no longer have the luxury to treat the new as an add-on. We can’t afford it. The new must ride on the back of the delete function. Delete something and THEN add something new. We need the capability to create space for the new to enter; without deletion it can’t happen.Related: The Voice Without Passion Rarely Changes the World
We need to start a “cut the crap” movement
— #CutTheCRAP — to seek out and cut things no longer relevant to our personal lives, organizations and governments.The environment will benefit because the crap that no longer serves a useful purpose is identified and recycled; customers benefit because their service providers are more efficient and able to offer new services and potentially lower prices; and citizens benefit because governments are able to deliver new services more efficiently and hold taxes down as much as possible.
The point is, we need a relentless focus on hitting the delete button in our world of limited resources. Consumption must be linked with (and in many cases dependant on) deletion — delete something if you want to earn the right to consume something else.But as long as sexy and success is associated with #AddIT it won’t happen.In organizations we need to make hitting the delete button a top priority and assign a new role — Chief CRAP Officer (CCO) — to expunge the stuff throughout the organization that sucks resources and detracts from doing the new progressive initiatives dictated by their strategic game plan.The CCO’s performance plan should be based on the value created from the savings realized by removing no-longer-relevant activities and hence the capability created to take on new initiatives without adding resources to do so. In addition to a focus on new product development, the CCO should be held accountable for the old product deletion role. How many sku’s do organizations offer with minimal sales? These are obvious candidates for #DeleteIT.Innovation and creativity should no longer only be associated with #AddIT activities in a world that is relentlessly and inexorably moving towards a lack of resources.“Give up to get” must find a way into our teachings if we are to avoid the consequences of too much output and too little capacity.