Best Practices

Innovators Jump From Planes

Was chatting with some of @jon.berna‘s folks and they jokingly claimed Jon makes them pack their parachutes after they jump out of the plane :rofl:

It got me thinking about the different stages/types of companies out there on the innovation-perception scale:

Naive Innovators
Jumped out of the plane thinking they’d be able to fly away like Superman.

Innovators, not operators
Jumped out of the plane without a chute. Didn’t know you were supposed to pack a parachute.

Operators, not innovators
"Look at that plane flying over our heads!"

Sales Innovators (AKA Innovators of BS)
We are going to jump out of the Tesla rocket ship as it circles Mars. And the rocket ship also sells a lot of cars for you.

Name-drop Innovators
Group1 uses it. Penske uses it. Mileone uses it. Who cares what it does.

Did-it-all innovators
We built the plane. But before we did that we grew the grass the pavement was laid on for the plane to take off. Then we refined the dead dinosaurs to make the fuel and we grew the flight attendants from test tubes. And we raised the pilots from birth… "Oh!" You just want to go skydiving???

Dead innovators
Did someone say reorg? Woohoo!!!

Junkie innovators
Think they are still innovating, but 12 step programs don’t exist to help them.

Innovates only at NADA
Reorged the company. Hired three chute packers. Hired a chute packing strategist consultant. Hired a plane approach specialist manager who dotted-line reports into the weather-vane and wind direction vice president. The department created an excellent Q2 plan that would have the jump launched in Q3. And then the chief of avionics decided the reorg wasn’t right, so they did it again in Q4. The same jump product manager and same jump project manager who has been there for 10 years worked directly with the same chute engineers and made some blue jumpsuits just in time to jump out of the same plane at the same time as they do every year no matter what the winds are like in Q1.

Jump out of the plane often. And land on the ground to do it again.

Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...
The Innovation-Perception scale is great concept to apply to auto software :)

From the early days of driven data we've been able to do the work on the boring stuff that we knew was a prerequisite of the more innovative / higher level functions. I'll chime in on a couple concepts that really help me focus.

1. I picked up from the book 'Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation' by Steven Johnson. It's called the agencent possible. Essentially, the AP is an area that is newly available to explore only after the previous requirements are unlocked. Our story at DD is a clear function of this principle as we had to learn each phase to refine the architecture and data flow to ultimately be able to apply it in the way we do today.

2. A democratic process to collect and score ideas yet a dictatorship when it comes to staying on track. Six Sigma forces this process in the forming of a project selection matrix where you score the ideas based on their merit aka democracy. The Six Sigma project charter 'to establish scope' is the hammer to stay on mission and not veer off to where the project never ends or becomes unrecognizable.

Six Sigma is too heavy for modern software and I feel is better at creating a system of quantitative analysis and re-inspection that leads to new larger improvements. It also forces you to think about your product in the larger ecosystem it lives in. Agile with scrum however, is better for innovating on a more granular level and helps continue to polish the innovation further. Sometimes this leads to new areas that the larger marco approach would've never signaled was possible.

Also - no parachutes on helicopters aka death-fans. Knowing that 18 year olds like me were working on those things and still having the trust in the system to fly them, badasses.