Here’s a great quote from Peter Drucker:
There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.
We often get asked about how innovation relates to efficiency programs like lean and six sigma. Obviously, ideas that you implement within these programs that improve efficiency are often innovative. And we try not to discount the importance of making small incremental innovations whenever possible. However, Drucker’s quote brings up a critical point – for innovation to be effective it has to be tied in with a strategy. We often see firms that focus on efficiency simply for efficiency’s sake – this is useless. In order to figure out if something is worth doing, we need to know how it fits within an overall strategy. When we innovate it is often experimental, which can make it difficult to tell how an executed idea fits with strategy. Nevertheless, the more closely strategy and innovation are integrated, the more likely it is that we’ll be successful over the long run.