Innovation in Simplicity


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Ongoing thoughts about innovation

Innovation is a hot topic at RightNow and I was recently speaking with an employee about how she is thinking about innovation and applying it to her role at the company.

She said, “I’m often struck by the complexity of our business relative to our size relative to the simplicity of our mission.  I believe we have opportunities to find the simplicity beyond the complexity, and make a big impact on our business.”  She had been studying Peter Drucker who makes a valid case for simplicity as a key element of innovation.   According to Drucker:

“An innovation, to be effective, has to be simple and it has to be focused. It should do only one thing; otherwise, it confuses. If it is not simple, it won’t work. All effective innovations are breathtakingly simple.  Indeed, the greatest praise an innovation can receive is for people to say, This is obvious. Why didn’t I think of it?”

Successful innovations start small, are not extravagant and do one specific thing.

Often we have policies which are legacies of days gone by or established to protect against unlikely events.  For example, why burden all customers with an onerous process just to protect the company against the few that might take advantage.  Letting the few take advantage, would remove friction for all your customers and might be less expensive than maintaining the barriers you have erected to protect yourself.

Simpler is innovative.  Less is often more.  Complexity increases confusion and reduces customer value creation.  Often some of the best innovations merely remove complexity from an existing business process. Look for the complexity in your business and work to remove it.

As you look at your existing business, are there things you could be doing more simply?

Greg Gianforte
RightNow Technologies
A serial entrepreneur, Greg founded RightNow in 1997 and took the company public in 2004 with one of that year's most successful initial public offerings. Greg has grown RightNow to more than 700 employees worldwide and more than $1 million in revenue.


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