Zee2A's Marketing Edge Blog

May 20, 2008

When can process be a substitute for competence?

I was recently asked that question by a colleague. He appreciated my answer (he flagged mine as ‘Best Answer’ on LinkedIn – Thanks James!) so I thought I would share it with you:

It’s not just in the IT field, James. To a large extent it’s a function of the manner in which innovations become mainstream. Brighter people than I have mapped the three phases of innovation, as Mystery, Model, Method.

Mystery is all about the innovator exploring what’s possible and experimenting in a largely resource-wasteful manner (but since they’re only building a prototype that’s not critical). Model is when the innovation starts it’s move toward the mainstream and the questions to be answered are now about how repeatable the innovation is, how cost-effectively that repetition can be done and so on. Method is the one that frustrates, sadly, because it’s all about volume-based production (which is actually reproduction of the original innovation on large scales). It focuses on producing as many of the product as possible with as little resource input as possible.

Because the Method phase is dependent on lower-cost resources (the innovator is too expensive to run the machines!) we develop processes to mimic the actions and activities of the innovator, and use the lowest possible skill level to run that process.

In essence, process is all about substituting for competence!! It’s when process doesn’t align with key strategic initiatives (or the skill levels become too low to even run the process effectively – because budgets are unrealistically low) that this becomes a problem for the organisation.

At Zee2A one of our key programme components is to help clients build powerful, repeatable marketing processes which do not rely on the business owner. This prepares the organisation for massive growth – because it frees the organisation from operational dependence on the entrepreneur. Read more here.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Phases of innovations are typically mystery, model, method and madness: […]

    Pingback by Phases of innovation « Executive in wait — May 25, 2008 @ 3:39 am | Reply


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