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How to stiffle innovation in IT

Innovation drives change, innovation improves productivity. Both are scary, so you might want to embark on a strategy to prevent innovation. Cutting your R&D spending along isn't enough, since determined minds will find a way around it (BYOD anyone). So here is my sure fire receipt how to get rid of innovation. It is not a list of "pick one", but step by step instructions to " kill the beast":
  1. Split your IT department into two. A small group of business facing analysts and consultants, lets call them "owner" and the larger group of the rest, lets call them "service"
  2. Enshrine the communication between the two into written rules, also known as Service Level Agreements (SLA)
  3. Describe your current environment in detail, make sure the description is void of terms like "regular update", "benchmark to industry standards" and other forward pointing phrases
  4. Keep the owner group small and appoint their leader from the outside. This prevents career paths from forming. Decree that there is no switching from service to owner. Available career paths only attract talent
  5. Make the owner own all the systems, product decisions and architectural directions
  6. Make the service responsible for the flawless operation of you your IT
  7. Freeze the architecture and never ever let experts review it for optimisation potential. If that happens, often driven by senior management unaware of the "no-innovation" program, use risk assessments to prevent implementation of finding or simply sit it out
  8. Important: compensate the service per user in your organisation, but not for the number of systems they run. It is crucial to decouple funding computation from system needs, this allows for a better kill. With a fixed budget, you will see replacement investments (e.g. contemporary servers, firewalls, appliances) shrink to a minimum, leading to the need to constantly focus on "keeping the lights on" since aging systems lead to service degradation
  9. Leave all decisions about software, processes, maintenance, uptimes etc. to the owner, but make the service fully responsible to execute. This allows to shut down any suggestion for improvement originating from service by simply not approving it
  10. Slap huge penalties onto the service for not meeting any of the enshrined SLA. Since innovation always carries a risk of failure or temporary service degradation during adoption, this effectively shuts down the mere idea of suggesting an innovation
  11. In a rapid changing environment make sure, you are on back versions, this prevents taking advantage of new capabilities - a nasty source of innovation
  12. Make risk the golden calf you dance around. Enjoy the puzzled faces from external consultant when you demand a risk assessment for fixing a flaw in your settings. Deny that there is something like "Risk of ignoring"
  13. The finest: after you ensured that the service has no influence how to conduct their work, implement an automatic budget cut annually, since they "got better at it and have probably optimised their operation by now"
  14. Constantly compare the service, with all the constraints and customisation enshrined, with consumer grade offerings and how great they are. This generates the perception of inferiority, so nobody dares to use the dreaded "I..." word
So in short: make sure not to attract talent, keep the systems outdated and penalise any deviation from an ambitious SLA.
Any similarities with common legal contracts are not purely incidental

Posted by on 04 January 2015 | Comments (3) | categories: Business


  1. posted by Ray on Sunday 04 January 2015 AD:
    Very insightful.

    This would apply to many of the customers we worked with but also the employer.

    I would take a guess that this method is taught in some very expensive MBA courses.

    I really like your "kill the beast" intro.
  2. posted by Naveen on Monday 05 January 2015 AD:
    You nailed just about every aspect - Owner, Service, SLA, Huge penalties... Emoticon laugh.gif Emoticon laugh.gif
  3. posted by Patrick Kwinten on Wednesday 07 January 2015 AD:
    a laugh and a tear...