To Be or Not to Be: Choosing the Innovation System That Fits Your Business


If you are ask­ing these ques­tions, then I think you need to take a step back and take a sec­ond look at the con­cepts in ques­tion. The key theme in each and every one of these is agility and adapt­abil­ity over cen­tral­iza­tion and tra­di­tion. Agility and adapt­abil­ity! There is no one size fits all in busi­ness. At times Agile will be bet­ter, but some­times Lean will be. Rarely will the de­ci­sion be straight­for­ward enough for you to be able to fol­low a set of do’s and don’ts.

What you should do is un­der­stand these con­cepts (Agile and Lean in par­tic­u­lar) as well as your busi­ness and em­ploy­ees. It’s no ac­ci­dent that these pro­gres­sive philoso­phies and method­olo­gies are so alike. They are a se­ries of in­ter­con­nected and over­lap­ping prin­ci­ples. Communication, whether in­ter­nal or ex­ter­nal, reigns supreme. To be Agile/Lean is to recog­nise that it’s bet­ter to act on com­mu­ni­ca­tion than it is to com­mu­ni­cate on ac­tion. As I have pre­vi­ously stated, it’s eas­ier to change plans than code or graph­ics. So make sure those plans are ac­cu­rate. Accurate scope dis­cov­ery is as im­por­tant as code and UI.

Innovate or Perish

While I was com­plet­ing my Ph.D. I came across a phrase used in acad­e­mia: “publish or per­ish.” The premise is that aca­d­e­mics that don’t pub­lish will lose ground to those that do. They will miss out on re­search grants, and, as a con­se­quence, re­search op­por­tu­ni­ties. They will also miss out on the recog­ni­tion that comes with hav­ing your name at­tached to a pa­per stu­dents and other aca­d­e­mics will read and cite. And so: pub­lish or per­ish.

Whether it’s as sim­ple as that, I will leave for the aca­d­e­mics to de­bate. What I will say, how­ever, is this: in­no­vate or per­ish. The ad­vance of tech­nol­ogy shows no signs of slow­ing. If any­thing, the in­tro­duc­tion of dis­rup­tive in­no­va­tion means it’s ac­cel­er­at­ing. What works to­day may still work to­mor­row, or it may not. Considering what has hap­pened this cen­tury alone—smart phones, so­cial me­dia, stream­ing, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, the Internet of Things (IoT), etc, I think it’s fair to say that the odds are on the lat­ter.

Within my own in­dus­try - cloud mi­gra­tion and third party API de­vel­op­ment, this phi­los­o­phy is par­tic­u­larly true. The Internet of Things (IoT) is grow­ing, and the ways in which we can in­ter­act with these de­vices is also grow­ing. Those who are not ready, risk be­ing left be­hind.

Innovation: Agility and Adaptability over Centralisation and Tradition

At WorkingMouse we are al­ways try­ing to in­no­vate; re­fin­ing and tri­alling new meth­ods each day. We are cur­rently tri­alling new processes and tech­nolo­gies, such as ‘Friday Arvo’. A time slot des­ig­nated to re­lax­ing and learn­ing new, in­no­v­a­tive con­cepts. Last week we had an Agile guru come in and run a work­shop. This is our in­no­va­tion sys­tem. Exercises such as these help make WorkingMouse more ag­ile and more in­no­v­a­tive.

Whether you get your Agile tips and tricks through a guru or some other way, my ad­vice is the same: come to grips with and un­der­stand the con­cepts. Understand, not obey. The over­ar­ch­ing idea of Agile is agility and adapt­abil­ity over cen­tral­i­sa­tion and tra­di­tion. The same is true of Lean, Scrum, and Kaizen. Be Agile and Lean in the most im­por­tant way, dis­card the as­pects of Agile/Lean that don’t work in your busi­ness. Be in­no­v­a­tive. Rome was­n’t built in a day, and nei­ther were Agile and Lean. They have evolved, and so must you and your busi­ness. Evolution comes in many forms and you can de­ploy dif­fer­ent meth­ods. However I’m a big be­liever in the phi­los­o­phy that every com­pany should con­sider them­selves a soft­ware de­vel­op­ment com­pany. Software de­vel­op­ment mod­ernises your processes and prod­uct, en­sur­ing what you’re do­ing and what you’re sell­ing are still rel­e­vant and in­no­v­a­tive.


To be Agile/Lean is to recog­nise (1) that it’s bet­ter to act on com­mu­ni­ca­tion than it is to com­mu­ni­cate on ac­tion, and (2), that change is in­evitable. Technology con­tin­ues to ad­vance and shows no signs of slow­ing. Because of this, there will al­ways be op­por­tu­ni­ties to be in­no­v­a­tive. How you re­spond to these max­ims could be the dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing a Nokia and be­ing a Samsung. How you ac­com­plish agility and adapt­abil­ity over cen­tral­i­sa­tion and tra­di­tion is­n’t im­por­tant. What’s im­por­tant is that you do it!

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Eban Escott

Big pic­ture thinker and Star Wars fa­natic

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