The Value of Maintaining, Not Just Innovating

What if being an “innovator” wasn’t the coolest thing on Earth after all?  What if having a “maintenance mindset” in business was just as cool?

In a new book, The Innovation Delusion, two university professors discuss the importance not only of innovating, but also of maintaining what’s already been built.  Read a Fast Company interview with the authors – and you will be excused if you have an “I knew it!” moment as you read it.

Far from being a panacea to all problems, innovation and the Silicon Valley “fail-fast mentality” can actually be a detriment if applied in the wrong context.  For traditional businesses such as GE, and for public schools and public infrastructure, paying attention to the fundamentals and keeping things working can be much more mission-critical than constantly striving to be innovative.

Instead of asking, “What do you want to disrupt?” the authors suggest also asking, “What do you want to preserve?”  And that sustainment focus and the related work at a company should be valued on par with innovation.  In the authors’ words, “Innovation and maintenance don’t have to be opposites.  They can work together.”

And they’re both actually pretty cool.