Did you catch the article in today's New York Times about Airbus’ announcement that it would only produce 9 of the A380’s rather than the 25 it had planned on? If you remember the A380 is a large 500 plus seat airliner.
This is an extremely big deal; you don’t willingly reduce planned production by two thirds. In fact, you only do it when you realize that you are constrained by the laws of physics and admit that there is no way that you can get it done. As a result of the news, Airbus shares fell 20%
In an average company, the process to get to a production delay takes a while. The engineers will pick up on it fairly early, but middle management will tend to hold out hope. They will apply tremendous pressure on the technical staffs to “figure it out.” Engineering will jump through the requisite hoops in order to look like team players, but their hearts aren’t in it. The situation will quickly degenerate from there. Sometimes it even leads into a Salem style witch hunt to root out those who purposefully caused the program failure.
You’ll notice that most of the literature and writing on focuses on the sexy aspects of innovation such ad creativeness, brainstorming, strategy, and global-ness. Those things are a waste of time if you can’t get product out the door.
Innovation is a complicated, difficult business. It requires superb competencies in four distinct, but interrelated areas. You need to have the right organizational behavior that deals with the mind, body, heart, and soul of your people. You need to understand what problems you are going to solve, who has these problems, and how you are going to solve them in both today’s and tomorrow’s market. You need to have the ability to translate the value equation into a viable product architecture and to tie it all together you need a world class project management structure in order to deliver. Any innovation solution that does not deal with these four areas is flat out wrong.