Lessons in “managing innovation”

Michael Payne | March 7th, 2007 |

The Harvard Business School publishes Working Knowledge and it often has good nuggets of information for small businesses and entrepreneurs . This article is on Lessons Not Learned About Innovation. Managing innovation sounds like a funny phrase for small business. We tend to just get stuff done and not worry so much about “managing innovation”.

Although it doesn’t read well, most small businesses do indeed have a process to get stuff done. Small companies just don’t necessarily articulate it the same way. I remember the first time I read about Agile software development and thought “hmm, that’s pretty much how we do things here at Pelago.” I imagine that’s true for most small development shops. It just makes sense having open communication, goals that are easily hit every few weeks, and flexibility to see an opportunity and change direction because of that opportunity. We have a “Pelago way of doing things” where we have fun and try to see things in new ways on a daily basis. We do take our time very seriously because as a small company you are always working with lofty goals and limited resources. The article recommends:

Create processes and controls. The innovation process is inherently uncertain, so companies must develop new ways of tracking progress in these units.

That sums up nicely why we built Intervals, but our “unit” would be the whole company. With our constant deadlines, juggling priorities, bouncing around client problems and limited man hours, we needed a way to manage and control our work while tracking budgets in real-time. We needed to know if a project was successful or not and why. It doesn’t feel like we are “managing innovation”. It’s just how we get work done.


One Response to “Lessons in “managing innovation””

  1. sharon says:

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John Reeve
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Jennifer Payne
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Jennifer Payne

Jennifer is the Director of Quality and Efficiency at Pelago. Her blog posts are based largely on her experience working with teams to improve harmony and productivity. Jennifer is a cat person.
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Michael Payne
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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