RealITy: What’s the opposite of Innovation? It’s Execution

Most organizations today are constantly challenged with balancing key business priorities, and managing risk. How does a company manage the risk of technical innovation, whilst simultaneously ensuring the day to day responsibilities are consistently executed to a high standard?

Compromising on either is not a viable option.

Take the blue pill, essentially by doing nothing, and you are left behind with aging technology and cumbersome processes, both of which can become a hassle to maintain.

Take the red pill by steaming ahead with innovation, and the depth of the rabbit hole can prove to be expensive and disruptive should the chosen solution not be carefully researched before all the various triggers are pulled.

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This conundrum begs the question: can both Innovation and Execution be carried out well, at the same time? Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer to this quandary. The decision on whether to focus on Execution or Innovation, is very much dependent on the culture of the firm. Balancing these priorities comes down to the companies’ own appetite of risk; plenty of firms have failed where others have succeeded, and vice versa.

In the last decade alone, a number of well-known firms chose “the blue pill” route. By continuing to simply focus on execution, major companies such as SEGA, BlackBerry, and Blockbuster soon began to feel the pinch of major revenue loss to their market rivals. Despite the daily business-as-usual running relatively strong, a lack of forward thinking allowed their market rivals to reach unprecedented heights at rapid pace. The competition, namely Sony, Apple, and Netflix, simply drove these firms either completely into the ground, or with significantly less profit.

On the flip side, trying to innovate too quickly is also risky and can prove unsuccessful. A lot of companies can end up choking on the “Red Pill”.

AOL, the once mighty Internet giant, had millions of customers using their services such as Internet and Email. When AOL merged with Time Warner in January 2000, the company was worth over $200bn. That deal, however, proved to be one of the worst in history. No longer the pioneer it once was, AOL was acquired by Verizon for $4.4bn in 2015.

Assuming Verizon’s plans are not derailed by cyber criminals (more on that some other time), the telco giant will also soon acquire Yahoo, a company once worth over $100bn, for a mere $4.8bn; a fraction of its heyday price.
Finding that ideal balance between Execution and Innovation, is more important now than ever before. Whilst these gargantuan enterprise examples may not be the same as the challenges you and I face day to day, the principles are very similar.

Thinking about your own environment: how many times have you had a great idea that could vastly improve production, but you have not had the time nor the resources, to implement it? So many good ideas fail to even begin due to the constraints of our day-to-day tasks, leaving us caught between the ‘Execution Rock’ and the ‘Innovation Hard-Place’.

Do you want to do more things?

Or do the same things in a much better way?

Don’t choose the Red or Blue pill! Instead, take the right steps toward finding that ideal balance between key business priorities, and management of risk: all of which can, hopefully, give you back one very valuable resource: Time.


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