Is innovation overrated? Time to celebrate old fashioned hard work

Let’s face it innovating is more fun than doing maintenance activities. There’s nothing like creating something new or being at the edge of emerging technology. Executing plans, following established processes and servicing our many things is tedious and hard work. From a career perspective, being in leadership, R&D, and change management is also seen as more desirable than management, PM, admin, and engineering type roles. Why would you want to keep the lights on when you can change the world?

I must admit I was attracted to these innovation led roles and the people in them. Nothing got the blood flowing like supporting leaders and their organizations in leading change efforts, creating new opportunities and winning large deals.

Overtime however I began to see the dark side of such a heavy focus on innovation and an obsession with the ‘new’. I couldn’t ignore how once something had become the norm and old, it was quickly forgotten and efforts moved onto something else new and trending. Take the recent Rio Olympics, in only 6 months since the games a number of the state of the art facilities have fallen into a state of disrepair. What should have been a legacy to future generations and emerging sporting talent is now in doubt because of a lack of maintenance strategy and money to execute upkeep.

Closer to home, we all know the challenge of keeping things, important things like our bodies maintained. Doing regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, getting enough rest to maintain our health isn’t complicated yet it is extremely hard for most of us to do day in, day out.

Without a doubt technology has made our lives easier. Take organizing and admin tasks, moving from analogue to digital has taken away the need for filing and many related admin paper related tasks. Apps such as Things, Freckle, & Wunderlist help in staying on top of your to-do-list.

However technology can only take us so far and hasn’t yet replaced good old fashioned hard work. Until all labour and drudgery can be replaced by robots, we need to plan, execute and reward maintenance activities.

I know it isn’t sexy, and if done well, efforts will go unnoticed unless we promote it. This will also help attract talent and ensure a sustained focus on upkeep and routine jobs. Without it our infrastructure, services, bodies and everything else will suffer. In the end we will also actually spend more money, time and effort on expensive repair and replacements that could have been avoided if only we saw maintenance as the new innovation strategy.