You don’t need to convince business managers of the importance of innovation. It is absolutely crucial for achieving sustainable success for your business. Yet, how is it then possible that so many organizations are just too busy to innovate?
The American president Eisenhower famously said, “what’s important is seldom urgent, and what’s urgent is seldom important.” There are always enough things that scream for our attention. We all have big to-do lists filled with things that need to get done today. There are so may short term issues to address that it seems like there is no time left for strategic reflections.
The Eisenhower Decision Matrix organizes these to-do’s on the axes of importance and urgency. Because a lot of our time goes to the “urgent but not important” quadrant, we keep little time for “not urgent but important”. This is typically where strategic decisions are made. You know you have to work on them, but it’s just not the right moment – not today at least, with all that stuff on your plate, and all of it urgent.
The secret of course is planning – you need to schedule time for innovation … since it won’t happen organically – the pull of the ‘urgent, not important’ of routine tasks is just too strong.
We have all been caught in the ‘performance engine’, fully aware of its pitfalls.
So if your daily work conflicts too much with your vision and mission, it's time to take action and re-tune, plan more time for the important long-term projects, because these are the ones that will help your company to remain relevant in an ever-changing world.
A variation on this theme becomes apparent in the adoption of new products. It's often the students or the semi-employed that start using the latest app, because they may have the slack time necessary to figure out the features and benefits of innovations. Meanwhile the busy executive is still using his old BlackBerry because he doesn’t have time to figure out how that new iPhone works.
How much time do employees in your company have for creativity and strategic thinking? Do you have a vision on transforming 'busyness' into business? Or are you still busy pulling a cart on square wheels?