It’s never ceased to amaze me how ridiculous my work can get some times. I don’t mean the actual projects, but the varied pressures from clients and the industries I serve and how those pressures create some of the most bizarre and unhelpful conditions for doing innovative work.
One of these is something that is rife within large companies and certainly within public sector organizations: budget-year planning. The idea that innovation is to take place within a budget year is somewhat an absurd idea. I understand some of the accounting issues that are faced by organizations, but are we not creative enough to work around or with those restrictions or policies more creatively?
It’s easy to point to public sector organizations for this as they usually have politically determined budgets and spending that is often tied to a parliamentary-approved timeline and such. But corporations do the same thing.
Innovation takes place within limits, but having to start and finish an innovation project that would normally be a 10-month project in 3.5 months because you’ve finally ‘found’ the money in what you have left of a budget that needs to be spent by a certain date lest you lose in the year to come is not a recipe for working with constraints effectively, it’s about imposing mental models on how innovation is valued and what it means.
When innovation is the last thing to go into your budget year it’s a good sign that whatever you create is less likely to see anything in the year ahead. Everyone will be too exhausted and under-funded to do anything with it.