Innovation vs Continuous Improvement

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Daniel Senter

Earlier in the year I was fortunate to speak at the Business Performance Excellence Summit in Las Vegas speaking about one of my passions ‘Business Intelligence’.

PEX Network hold many similar conferences across the world and help to bring businesses and like minded professionals together who are keen to find new ways to challenge the traditional approaches to enhancing business performance and customer experience.

"The light bulb wasn’t invented by continuously improving the candle…"

Having previously worked in Business Improvement I always ensure the principle and skills have have learned are embedded in the work I’m involved in. I therefore am keen to share ways that Business Intelligence can help to drive process improvement and vice versa use process improvement to improve the way Business Intelligence is delivered. The conference opened up with a panel discussion which led to a conservation around continuous improvement and innovation. One person asked,

"At what point do you stop with continually improving and look for a new process or new innovation"


A really great point I thought and listened intently as the debate went on, where it finally ended with a discussion about reviewing the outputs of the processes to see if they actually fit the needs of the receiver of these outputs. This conversation reminded me of a really great point someone once made at a conference I attended, which I shared with the group…

"The light bulb wasn’t invented by continuously improving the candle…it was about understanding what the job to be done was and then stepping back to look for solutions to solve this"

I feel this makes a great point that you could spend lots of time and energy making a candle burn the longest or the brightest, but you would never get to a lightbulb it would always be a candle. In the same hand if you don’t truly understand what the ‘job to be done’ is then you could waste precious time and resource improving processes not fit for purpose. It was great to then hear some of the responses from around the room and I think (to avoid the pun) a few ‘light bulb’ moments for people themselves in terms of continuous improvement and innovation…

It was a good point to reflect and also a great starting point for the remainder of the conference. By spending time to think about the service I offer in Business Intelligence in terms of what the job to be done is, or more importantly the questions to be answered are you can really question and review the things you do and deliver…

All in all a great conference making some great new contacts!