Innovation is a hot buzzword in the public sector. As described by Rasmus Hansen and Jens Skibsted, “The new breed of innovation professionals can be placed in two categories: innovation custodians and innovation word-slingers. The custodians are middle managers assigned to oversee the innovators and their processes. The word-slingers are external consultants that will take corporate managers through endless innovation workshops or blabber on about the aforementioned processes.”
The truth about innovation is that it is usually accomplished by a hardheaded, single-minded visionary who bullies the world into accepting their innovative ideas. I think of the Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison. Innovation typically grows from the individual rather than a group or organization. Innovation is a difficult concept to teach or draw from most people.
So, how can an ERP consultant be innovative? How can he or she help a client nurture innovation within a government agency? The first requirement is an open mind. The second is a seasoned eye for weird ideas that can be translated to efficiencies and return on citizenship (ROC). Too often, consultants fall back on “best practices” that they have witnessed over the years. Just because it has always been done that way, does not necessarily mean it is the best way to accomplish a task. The QWERTY keyboard comes to mind. It was an important process for manual typewriters to keep typists from having jammed keys, but try and have your organization stop using the QWERTY keyboard and it will reveal the challenges of innovation.
Don’t give up yet. There is always a clever operator or end-user who has a great idea that they are bursting to share it with someone. An innovative consultant will listen to the idea, sort the fly dung from the pepper and frame it in such a way that stakeholders, particularly management, will accept it.
An ERP implementation is a great venue for innovation. The organization has already admitted that it needs some assistance with its processes and actions. It is open to suggestions and the innovative consultant (not the “innovation consultant”) can be the catalyst for success. An innovative consultant will seek out and shepherd those great ideas and translate them into a positive change.
Every organization can reinforce good ideas, promote changes to the status quo and nurture innovation wherever it grows. That defines an innovative ERP consultant.
Written by Rich Farrell, Senior Account Executive at Panorama Consulting Solutions.