Monday, January 30, 2012

Can innovation and project management coexist?

I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on a webinar presented by SmartOrg, "Assessing the State of Innovation: How Does Your Company Rate?"

This session, presented by Dr. David Matheson, President and CEO of SmartOrg was a great look at some trends in innovation and innovation buzzwords like “Design Thinking”, “Idea Management” and “Voice of the Customer.”

You can view a replay of the session here:

While I was watching, I was struck by a few interesting comments about the conflict between innovation and project management. Can you "allow innovation to challenge your strategy" while still maintaining your project management methodologies? Can project management and innovation ever peacefully coexist?

My key take-away? Yes. While true innovation may exist at the fringes of strategy, it needs to align with overall goals and serve the needs of customers/users to succeed. Using iterative strategies can actually work quite well with innovation as the team reevaluates, learns, and changes with each iteration.

In this White Paper on the topic by SmartOrg, they use Google as an example:
"One example of the iterative approach is extended beta periods for new ideas. You create a product and try it in the market. If people like it and use it, then you improve it. If not, you drop it. Google has built much of its success on this approach, for example. Google maps and Gmail were both created using this framework." 

What are your thoughts, can innovation and project management strategy work together?

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA and the voice behind the @Project_World twitter. She may be reached at

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