Why Innovation Is On The Decline

Light on off
You’ve experienced it firsthand, innovation is slowing down (and yes, it’s quite disappointing!).  



Do you feel compelled to get a new smartphone, TV, or just about anything else…or do you already basically have the latest and greatest technology, even if it’s a couple of years old now?



But imagine, if something great and new did come out…we’d all be dancing in the streets and eager to buy. 



That’s right, innovation is not what it was…according to the Wall Street Journal, there is “An Innovation Slowdown At The Tech Giants.”



The question is why is this happening?



No, the tech companies are not copying Washington politics (sleepy, sleepy…)! 



But instead, we may have become our own worst enemies to our ability to innovate anew. 



The New York Times today explains that our minds have a toggle switch between being focused on a task and being free to let your mind wonder and innovate. 



You can’t do both at the same time, no you can’t.



And these days, we have so flooded ourselves with information overload with everything from 24/7 work and “big data,” email/texting, social media, and thousands of cable stations and billions of YouTube videos, and more that we are forever engaged in the what’s now, and are not allowing ourselves to rest, recuperate, and think about the potential for what’s new. 



If we want more from the future (innovation, creative problem solving, and sound decision making), then we need to allow some space for our minds to restore itself.



Whether that means daily downtimes, weekly walks in the park, monthly mediations, or semiannual vacations…we need to stop the diminishing returns of constant work and information arousal, and take a little mind breather. 



Instead of chugging along our insane nonstop routines of endless activities and firehose information engagement, we will do ourselves and our children and grandchildren a great service by pulling the train over for some rest and relaxation…and only then will real innovation begin again. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Smellicious

Smellicious

This past week in the office we had an etiquette offense.

Someone had some lunch that was smell-eeeee!

The whole suite was reeking from it.

First one person runs up to me as I enter the suite and says, “Did you smell it?”

Just getting over a cold, I say innocently, “Smell what?”

Then as I head down the hall, even the sniffles doesn’t protect me from whatever’s been cooking in lunch-land.

Ick–it’s like a combination of day old leftovers that have been warmed over with a foul fishy smell combusting the whole work area.

Next, I see one guy running around the cubicles with a air freshener–spraying and spraying–everywhere.

Followed by a lady, with a similar aerosol, sticking her head in the offices and giving a spritz or two or three.

Colleagues were gathering to discuss the stink and venture guesses as to who the culprit was that would invoke such horror in the office.

Jokes and mild-mannered innuendoes followed to sort of lighten the mood of the folks that had been working extra hard the last few months.

The stick stunk for almost 24-hours, but despite the bad smell in the air, the gregarious mood made up for it–as it was just another event we could bond around–the smell, the sights of the people running around with air fresheners, and the good-natured ridicule on who would offend and break the professional code of conduct–and leave everyone gasping for breath. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Making More Out of Less

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One thing we all really like to hear about is how we can do more with less. This is especially the case when we have valuable assets that are underutilized or potentially even idle. This is “low hanging fruit” for executives to repurpose and achieve efficiencies for the organization.

In this regard, there was a nifty little article in Federal Computer Week, 15 Jun 2009, called “Double-duty COOP” about how we can take continuity of operations (COOP) failover facilities and use them for much more than just backup and business recovery purposes in the case of emergencies. 

“The time-tested approach is to support an active production facility with a back-up failover site dedicated to COOP and activated only during an emergency. Now organizations can vary that theme”—here are some examples:

Load balancing—“distribute everyday workloads between the two sites.”

Reduced downtime—“avoid scheduled outages” for maintenance, upgrades, patches and so forth.

Cost effective systems development—“one facility runs the main production environment while the other acts as the primary development and testing resource.”

Reduced risk data migration—when moving facilities, rather than physically transporting data and risk some sort of data loss, you can instead mirror the data to the COOP facility and upload the data from there once “the new site is 100 percent operational.”

It’s not that any of these ideas are so innovatively earth shattering, but rather it is their sheer simplicity and intuitiveness that I really like.

COOP is almost the perfect example of resources that can be dual purposed, since they are there “just in case.” While the COOP site must ready for the looming contingency, it can also be used prudently for assisting day-to-day operational needs.

As IT leaders, we must always look for improvements in the effectiveness and efficiency of what we do. There is no resting on our laurels. Whether we can do more with less, or more with more, either way we are going to advance the organization and keep driving it to the next level of optimization.