20 December 2018

It’s All About Execution

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A good idea is just a good idea. It only becomes useful when you do something with it. So execution is everything. That’s the mantra taken up by many recently, including the Mike Bracken-led government digital teams with their “Strategy is Delivery” bent. This message was brought home to me when I read today’s Guardian article commenting on the current chaos surrounding the rollout of smart meters.

It seems like such a great idea….that all homes are generating real-time data on energy consumption and that data is used to understand demand, optimize forecasting of energy use, help consumers manage bills, and much much more. But that only works if you can roll out a massive change programme across a diverse, complex technology infrastructure. And deal with the political, social, and economic challenges this transformation will bring. Hence the UK government is way out of line with its rollout programme, and massively confused about what to do about it.

This is a point I make in all of my talks on innovation. The classic definition of “what is innovation?” involves three interlocking concepts: Desirability, Feasibility, and Viability. A big play is made about how innovation is about the constant dance that occurs between these three concepts. What is missing, of course, is that all of this only makes practical sense when it is surrounded by the culture and change context within which this dance takes place. To forget that is to mis-judge everything. A lesson the UK government is learning the hard way….again…