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When Innovation Stops Progress

Innovation used to be a good thing. Companies would thrive on the unknown, the soon to be, the yet to come. Innovation brought us the internet, iPods, 3D movies, sliced bread. And the world will never stop looking to innovate.

Yet the search for the next best thing has stopped us from loving the things that are now.

I’ve seen several businesses lately that struggle to identify their future without trying to overhaul products, offices, or mindsets. It’s not all bad, and there must be a level of innovation to stay competitive in our world.

However more and more people (regardless of age or generation) are starting to believe that unless there’s change, then there’s no progress. They’re wrong.

Sometimes excellence must be found in improvement without innovation. Products, workspaces, or web content do not constantly need to be “innovating,” for the hope of progress. Let me give you an example

Many companies (especially large ones) have intranet sites, where they want to stay on the cutting edge of technologies and platforms, while giving employees information they need to get their jobs done efficiently. So many of those same companies end up changing platforms or styles every two years, “innovating” new techniques, guidelines, or whole platforms to do so. This requires a huge amount of communication, time to implement, bug testing, training, dissemination, content migration, and financing. By the time it goes live, platform owners start thinking about something else. At the same time, launch day means day one of adoption for the users, who are also the majority of the company. And I’ve seen it take anywhere from 6-12 months to fully adopt a new process, platform, or habit. This means that you’re just getting your people up to speed by the time that the company starts considering something new, and the cycle goes back to the beginning.

Innovation has stopped progress.

So when did we start considering innovation as a synonym for progress? There’s a beauty to businesses who desire excellence over innovation.

Excellence should drive innovation, not progress.

With a shift in how you consider your task or business, it would benefit your company, employees, and the world at large to look for ways to bring excellence to their work rather than change. Change is not bad unless it’s change just for the sake of change.

Innovation asks “what can be changed?”, where excellence asks “is there a way to make this better?” Innovation focuses on the product over the person, where excellence focuses on personal development. Innovation stalls progress as a way to show value, where excellence shows value and then motivates progress.

This may seem minor, and sometimes even the same. Yet companies and individuals that strive to make products and decisions that are based on excellence find more significant improvements in their work, than those that look for change in order to be seen as innovative.

Don’t let the idea of innovation stop progress and sacrifice quality. Instead, let excellence motivate innovation so that progress is inevitable.

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