Reaching the Next Normal
Superficially, innovation and standards seem contradictory.
After all, standards presume enforced sameness every time, and
innovation presumes enforced difference the next time.
Additionally, maintaining standards is beneficial only if the standards
themselves cause higher probability of obtaining desired value. This
maintenance typically proves to involve a commitment to operational
refinement and control of a set of conditions that are not on their own
Meanwhile, innovation assumes that operations will likely be unusual
for at least a period of time until a new approach becomes the next
“normal”. This implies that innovation efforts are exempt from the
business requirement for standards, even if the innovation is deemed
The Paradox, Solved
The resolution of this apparent contradiction is easy to describe,
whether easy to implement or not.
It starts with reconfirming what the purpose of standards is…
And from there it continues with standards being developed explicitly
(not exclusively) for innovation.
Innovation standards begin with the recognition that innovation is, by
definition, a form of intentional change, and therefore that change
management provides the model for implementing standards of
Changing how you Change
Managing change is valuable specifically because of the difference the management makes
in environments where change will either occur even without management, or will
otherwise not occur when necessary.
From that standpoint, the goal (again) is to obtain desired business value, even as the path
to value may require more “regulation”.
Meanwhile, innovation has now become something that is deemed inherently valuable,
which leaves it open to the issue of whether doing it “badly” is still better than not doing it
The context for tolerating poorly-done innovation is learning – literally, learning how to
Therefore, the framework for managing innovation as change must include a model for
success, namely, maturing innovation as a capability – not as a product. The model then
guides policies used to manage the progression of innovation effort.
Change Requirements for Innovation
Bringing up capability for innovation, from unrecognized or random to premeditated and
instrumentally strategic, declares the field of relevance for management.
From an industrial point of view, innovation typically derives its value from
a. being a viable replacement of an incumbent offering, that …
b. supports accomplishment in use through …
c. an unprecedented combination of means and approach …
d. in a given context.
Replacement makes the timing of the innovation’s initial availability a critical factor of
value, and effective timing may require any or all of the following:
• Speed (to actual provision), which exploits immediate opportunity
• Difficulty to reproduce or copy, which preserves existing and potential opportunity
• Cost-effectiveness, which underwrites recurring opportunity
Change Requirements for Innovation
Time-to-value, and feasibility of timed opportunity, frame the effort to change for
Typically, the business feasibility will require a balance of compliance, quality and
performance – which (as shown in the following image) are outcomes derived from
managing Demand, Methods, and Impacts.
In light of this requirement, the function of standards, where innovation is the subject, is to
create a sustained environment for the maturation and alignment of capability to change –
and to calibrate that to the intended type of opportunity timing (time-to-value).
Compliance, quality and performance levels are manageable variables that can be set,
raised, lowered, scoped, etc.
To support the selected variables, examples of applicable high-level standards for the
sustainability can readily include Accountability, Security/Confidentiality, Infrastructure,
and Sourcing –each of which is a decided range of options to offer.
As sustainers, these standards must be applied as real-time resources, not as restrainers,
for the designated type of innovation.