One of the challenges of innovation is the boundaries of it. To innovate you need to work within the boundaries of the existing system – at least some of them. Otherwise, you doing something different. To use an absurd example, if you innovate the shoe to be something worn on our hands or head, it ceases to be a shoe. You may still be in the clothing category but you cease to be working on shoes.
Sometimes the boundaries are more blurred. If you innovate a financial payment mechanism to work in the humanitarian space it could be innovation in both categories – humanitarian and finance.
However, both examples are products. And yet, the idea of boundaries sitll holds up when we move into the worlds of process and paradigm innovative. Especially when we try to fund innovation. Budget holders tend to be risk averse, therefore want to know what their money is going to be used for. Saying ‘we’re going to hire someone and give them free reign’ usually doesn’t cut it with budget holders.
Therefore, one of skills change makers and innovators need to perfect is the art of stating specific enough activities that satisfy budget holders, but generic enough to give team members wide berth. Another way of saying it is that we think about budget line descriptions as leaving the door open a crack. And then giving the team levers to pry it open further.