Outside the Box is NOT Outside the Corporate Structure

Thinking or acting outside of the box can sometimes be perceived as rash or brazen behaviour in some organiztions.  I was in an internal meeting yesterday where I was the client and I was reminded about the challenge that process and outside the box thinking often have, so though the meeting did not have this issue it spurred me on to write this.

Often when we are working we have approaches or structures/frameworks that help us do our daily work.  They could be in place for effectiveness or compliance or as is sometimes the case, just cause that has been the way we have always done it.  So when a cowboy or external person without the constraints comes in they come up with another approach to the problem it can cause some grief.  The grief can come from many places:

  • lack of interest to change or adapt
  • knowledge of items that the innovator does not have line of site to (ie.  may be better, but support does not fall into normal SLA so does not work)
  • breaks a rule or governance constraint
  • and I am sure many other valid or invalid reasons

When Project X uses the Rapid Results approach or Agile development approach, one of the early lessons for me is that we need to come up with a way to integrate this into the constraints of an existing structure.  This does not mean we always map it to another approach, but we must respect the tennants of the the environment and look at how to integrate the two.

Yesterday morning I was in a meeting where we were discussing Geoffrey Moore’s Dealing with Darwin book.  Many times during the conversation I was reminded that not everyone is wired the same way and can or should be involved in each aspect of operating a business.  In the book he positions the thought around how to cycle people through the evolution from innovation through to twighlighting a product or service.  Part of this is about focusing on core (value building business) and moving context resources into core.  (I will let you read the book as I do not have it in front of me and will butcher this as it is 6am here and I can’t quite get it all threaded). 

The thought hit me that not everyone wants to be hit with outside of the box ideas as they have been wired differently and would find it hard at the innovation stage to deal with it, but later at the production level would be fine.

We have seen that many organizations have come up with approaches that help marry the innovation/outside the box thinking into their corporate structure with great success.  The trick I think as I have seen it is in the mapping to stay within or evolve the corporate structure to cope with the push that it feels by the innovator.

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