Innovation can be called the capacity to change. Innovation without change has no true meaning for an organization. It would be innovation without a result (Carnall, 2007). Although innovation involves changes, not every change involves innovation (Boak, 2010). Innovation has to leave the theoretical phase to make change occur.
When we think about Sharepoint implementations then it is clear that it is an innovative platform that includes a new way of sharing information and collaboration. Innovation related to Sharepoint is indeed a capacity to change that can help organizations define new ways of sharing information and collaboration on different fronts. Just installing Sharepoint is not enough to make it work for you. A Sharepoint implementation must enter the active phase of applicability to be effective and usefull. Else, as stated before, Sharepoint would be innovation without a result (Carnall, 2007).
Also, not every Sharepoint implementation involves innovation. If Sharepoint is just used as a fileshare on crack, then it is not an innovation but an extension on some functionality that already exists. When Sharepoint is used as a platform for new definitions of collaboration and information sharing, then it can be called a true innovation which entered the active phase of true applicability.
Process innovation is the challenge of using often scarce resources more effectively or becoming faster and more ﬂexible in their response to a diverse environment. Product innovation is about using combinations of new and existing knowledge to deliver new or improved ‘product concepts’. Discontinuous innovation is comparable with disruptive innovation in that it interrupts the normal way of doing things (Isaksen and Tidd, 2006). Opposite to disruptive innovation is routine innovation that is found where the market is familiar with the product class but the technology is new (Meyers and Tucker, 1989).
When we look at Sharepoint in relation to the previous paragraph, then it is clear that we have to do with a complex beast. Sharepoint has it all. Process innovation, product innovation, discontinuous and disruptive innovation. Altough the market is familiar with the product class and only the technology is new, Sharepoint is such a new way of doing things in this familiar field, that it left the regions of routine innovation. A word of warning is needed here: just don’t approach Sharepoint as a routine innovation because then the organization will not be put in the proper attitude towards the Sharepoint implementation and the needed roles to make it a success will be deceived and misled and the implementation of Sharepoint will probably fail.
Only when the organization approach Sharepoint as the complex beast it is and put the proper roles in place for both process innovation and product innovation and forms the right teams around the characteristics of disruptive innovation, then the organization will have a change to succeed and the triangle of budget, resources and time will be realistic. When this is not done properly, then the triangle of resources, budget and time is unbalanced and will collapse along the way of the Sharepoint implementation. Don’t be fooled and don’t think you or your organization is an exception. It is not and the laws of the triangle also apply to you and your organization. Play the triangle well, or be thrown out of the orchestra broke and disillusioned and without a successful Sharepoint implementation.
These different kinds of innovations all demand a different approach and use of it. Disruptive innovation should be managed differently from routine innovation. They demand different resources and organization. The most benefit for organizations comes from a combination of process and product innovation. This is when the innovation of products is done within optimized and innovative processes (Isaksen and Tidd, 2006).
Like said before; if you do not put the proper innovative processes in place around Sharepoint implementations, then it will probably fail. It is not a routine innovation and it should not be approached as such. Indeed the most benefit for organizations can come from a combination of process and product innovation but in my experience many organizations underestimate the needed activities to reach that benefit. They get stuck before it becomes benefitial. Planning is key. Proper leadership also and constant communication of the vision why Sharepoint is implemented. When this is combined with strong goal setting, then the Sharepoint implementation can become a successful one (Kotter, 1990;Locke, 1968).
Continuous improvement can be an element of organizational innovation. The delicate balance between risk and stability is important within organizational innovation. A key factor to organizational innovation is having a clear image of the desired results, a clear vision and a stable strategy and product innovation charter (Holbeche, 2006).
Incremental, safe and widespread innovation may be better for internal considerations. This can often be related to small changes. Novel and disruptive innovations may be better for market considerations (Isaksen and Tidd, 2006). When the business strategy is not well aligned to these different kinds of innovation, failure is almost unavoidable.
These market considerations concerning Sharepoint will be focused on collaboration, information sharing and opening and sharing legacy systems. That is complicated stuff and indeed when the strategy of the business is not aligned to the Sharepoint implementation it will almost for sure fail. Sharepoint is complex and simple at the same time. It is simple when you know what you are doing and when you know the business and organization very well. Instead of having enough inside knowledge on these levels when implementing Sharepoint, organizations fully and totally and disastrously underestimate the innovative characteristics of Sharepoint implementations on all these levels and fail immensely.
This can be avoided by proper leadership, proper knowledge and proper innovative processes around Sharepoint. Leadership is about change and it works through relationships with people. It establish direction, it aligns people in the right ways, it motivates and inspires. It is about forming and communicating a shared vision of where to go, why to go there and how to reach that point. When this is not in place before you or your organization starts with a huge Sharepoint implementation; stop with the process and go back to the drawing board on all the levels (Kotter, 1990;Burns, 1978;Bennis and Nanus, 1985).
If you do not do just that, then I advise you to put your money in the poor countries instead of throwing it away.
Boak, G. (2010) Understanding Innovation and Change, Zurich: Robert Kennedy College.
Carnall, C. (2007) Managing Change In Organizations, 5th edition, Harlow: Pearson Education.
Holbeche, L. (2006) Understanding Change, 1st edition, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Isaksen, S. and Tidd, J. (2006) Meeting the Innovation Challenge, 1st edition, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Kotter, J.P. (1990) A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management, 1st edition, New York: The Free Press.
Kotter, J.P. (1996) Leading Change, 1st edition, Harvard Business School Press.
Meyers, P.W. and Tucker, F.G. (1989) 'Defining roles for logistics during routine and radical technological innovation', Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, vol. Volume 17, no. Number 1, Dec.
Locke, E.A. (2012) Locke's Goal Setting Theory, [Online], Available:http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_87.htm.