The Weekly Dig: Disciplined Innovation and Speed
The Weekly Dig is an easy-to-digest peek into trending industry topics, thought-leadership, and product updates from Pype.
July 3, 2019
A few weeks ago, we picked the brain of Dominic Daughtrey, Sundt’s Continuous Improvement Manager, to see how Sundt successfully evaluates and implements enterprise-level software. During that conversation, he touched on the concept of Disciplined Innovation, which he explained as “we’re going to experiment aggressively on the front line, we’re going to be extremely diligent and rigorous, and we’re going to measure not only the metrics, but also the qualitative impact on our employee owners.” As the interview progressed, we dug deeper into this idea and how it guides Sundt and Dominic’s own practices, and we’ll be sharing his insights over this four-part series of the Weekly Dig.
Dominic explained that Disciplined Innovation is a series of balancing acts. First and foremost, a firm must set a determined speed for evaluating technology. Too fast, and the company risks missing key information and could either throw money away on an ineffective tool or miss out on a diamond in the rough. Too slow, and the company could continuously fall behind technologically or implement already outdated solutions while being out-performed by other, quicker firms.
However, settling on one, catch-all timeline for every piece of tech your firm evaluates only pushes the problem down to a smaller scale. More impactful technology gets rushed through the approval process, while evaluators spend more time than necessary on low-impact tools. Sundt found this balance by dividing their potential tech into low-impact, medium-impact, and high-impact categories, and set up time-limits for evaluating tech in each category. “With every decision we make, we first ask ourselves ‘how severe is the impact if we get it wrong?’” Low impact productivity tools only need about one to two months of investigation before a decision can be reached, whereas high-impact, enterprise rollouts would be given half a year to evaluate.
This reasonableness principle has worked well for Sundt. They have been able to efficiently and effectively make decisions on new technology with a level of information and effort that suits the situation. Dominic concluded, “In any other part of your business, you’d never make decisions off limited information. Why would you for tech?”