The Six Nines of Innovation
Anyone familiar with system design knows the term availability – the percentage of time that a system is up and usable. A mission-critical operation needs high availability, ideally 99.9999% of the time. We call that a Six Nines operation.
- Passion – Innovation has to be really important, not just to the odd dreamer in the organization, not just to product development, but to the people in charge, right up to the CEO.
- Paranoia – You need to be looking over your shoulder, not at the competition, but at your own complacency. The feeling that, “if we don’t innovate, we’re going to die” must pervade the organization.
- Discipline – As far as innovation goes, this is the least intuitive of the three. But just as it’s at the core of Six Nine operations, discipline is also at the core of innovative companies.
Discipline is where companies fall short. Many of them try harnessing the ideas of the dreamers within their ranks, but when the ideas tank, they’re abandoned, with little attempt to analyze or understand the failure. The successful companies have the same failures, but they have the discipline to thoroughly analyze the failures, reconfigure, and try again.
Anyone can fail, but it takes discipline to learn from those failures, and to do it quickly, to keep the cycle of innovation going.