Death By Continuous Development

Tags WATT, Upgrade, Civil 3D

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The modern practice of continuous development is a good thing. We employ these sound practices in our product development for the Production Solution products for AutoCAD Civil 3D.

As consumers we get better versions of products as a result often at a reduced cost.

Smart phones would be the most obvious visible example of this in the modern global marketplace. In spite of the marketing and sales hype that this is always innovative it is not. It is well executed and managed business practice. That business practice can be innovative but the product isn’t necessarily an innovation.

Better and Innovation Are Not the Same

Customers and other Civil 3D folk ask me all the time why doesn’t Autodesk fix things?

“Isn’t that what continuous improvement is all about.”

All well-practiced continuous development systematically extinguishes innovation unless feature death is an option. Almost all larger companies suffer from the syndrome. Most small companies do too. In the old days, we called the syndrome in programming houses - “Not invented here.” Some still do. That isn’t exactly the actual human issue.

There are occasional exceptions to the common syndrome. These usually occur in a business crisis. Occasionally they do not. The exceptions are the holy grail of business consultants and successful managers.

The best CEOs fear the syndrome like the Black Death. Most don’t. Most CEOs happily don’t have or want innovative products. God forbid.

Innovation happens from serendipity. Newton and Halley, Edison and Tessla, Jobs and Woz, and Gates and Allen. Most innovation happens by people you never hear about. Years ago I called this Discontinuous Innovation. Discontinuous innovation happens all the time in the real world, but most folks only notice long after the innovation becomes fact.

Success is the problem. The human inertia says protect your products that sell from competition – especially internal competition. Autodesk is certainly famous for it. Buy a product with a great idea and totally botch the most innovative parts of it or simply try and sell it to the wrong customer.

My many years as one of Autodesk’s the most successful Resellers taught me this painful truth more times than I care to count.

The idea that one might want to destroy a product feature is unthinkable.

Oh. They love say their products are innovative. Autodesk and many others spend millions marketing the idea. No one in marketing or sales will ever get fired for claiming a company product is innovative.

The truth is most “good” products are not innovative. They are safe by definition. This is why they sell and why they keep selling and sometimes, if they’re really lucky, with less expense. Like many public companies Autodesk is very inventive and good (maybe we could even say, “Innovative”) at moving their expenses off their visible bottom line onto someone else’s.

Is it possible to engineer serendipity into business practice?

You bet. You simply have to embrace humility, pain, and suffering which sounds much worse than it is.

Serendipitous Innovation is Inspirational

The event and pursuit of Serendipitous Innovation is by definition participatory. These events always rise from the fact the people think differently. Thank God. Do we behave like they do?

What would you want destroyed in AutoCAD Civil 3D?

Send the Autodesk Product Manager the List

Maybe with a little bit of work from you they will get the life-giving message that destructive innovation is a good thing.