CRITICAL TENSION: On Which Side of the Divide Would You Thrive?

By Blog, Innovation, Leadership, Mojo Blog

Imagine for a moment that you were cutting your organization straight down the middle.

You’d have operations and innovation.  They guys that keep the lights on everyday versus the dudes that get new and sexy stuff into the market.

Without operations, innovators would have great ideas and no money (or lights) to fund or build them.  Without innovation, operations would be life support on an organization waiting for the plug to be pulled.

The question is, what side of the organization would you fall on?  Are you the reliable person that keeps the lights on or Are you the innovator that focuses on the future?

Not sure?

Check out these distinct differences:

Operations Innovation
Vision Vision:  An overarching guideline by which organizational decisions
are made. Ex: To consistently set and exceed the benchmark for
customer service.
Vision:  An architect’s blueprint of the future. The only thing standing in it’s way
is time an action. They future of the
vision will be realized.Ex: To build the faster processor in the world.
 Risk Risk mitigation is safe. Safety is risky.
Decision- Making May leverage a committee.
Usually uses historical data
to determine what actions
to take next.
Autonomous or with few people
involved.  There is little historical data
to no historical data. Decisions are based on their impact to the vision.
Trend Reactions  Recognizes trends and
protects team and business
from adverse impact.
Recognizes trends and attempts to
leverage them.  Sets trends.
 Change Keeps change to a necessary
minimum. Disruption of
operations is a bad thing.
Best practices and process are critical.
Sees change as a necessity for
significant growth.  Disruption is
required to move forward faster.
Process is meant to be improved.
 Team Leads team members to be the
future of the organization.
Succession planning is critical.
Has believers in the vision
who are led to make the
vision a reality. Their impact on the vision and belief in reaching the vision is all that matters.
 Communication  Adverse to major debates or
arguments; however, discussions
or questioning of current
operations is somewhat acceptable.
 Major debates, questioning of
direction and vision, and even
arguments are useful when
poking holes in current vision
and helping to strengthen ideas.

Operational Leaders in an Innovation role can find themselves feeling highly stressed.  They will work diligently to put process in place so that operational standards are adhered to.

Innovative Leaders in an Operational Role can find themselves bored. Day-to-day work will be unusually stressful and may fall through the cracks.  Innovative Leaders will find ways to bring innovation into operations by correcting or improving current practices.

Operational Leaders and Innovate Leaders need each other.  Without Operations, the Innovation side of the organization would constantly make things better with no constraints of time, budget, or scope.  While experimentation is critical to success, constraints on experimentation ensure that innovators will not spend their way into delivering nothing while striving for perfection.

Without Innovation, Operations will constantly strive for process improvement and rarely seek out ways to disrupt the status quo.  A lack of innovation will cause stagnation in the industry and eventually corporate failure.

The critical tension between the two keeps organizations thriving.  Knowing which side of the divide you thrive on will keep you successful.


So – Are you OPERATIONAL or INNOVATIVE?  On which side of the divide do you thrive?