It can if you have too much innovation, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal June 11, 2007, “How Innovation Can Be too Much of a Good Thing.” Too many innovations in progress can spread resources too thin and cause delays in all the projects. Delays means competitors are first to market and can build share while you try to schedule the time of key resources.
Why does this happen? Inevitably some resources are limited in supply compared to others resources and cause bottlenecks in the product development process. Many organizations do not plan for any slack in their processes so when some issue arises, bottlenecks quickly arise.
The WSJ article cites Avery Dennison Corp. as an example. Avery was dismayed that the schedules for many of its new products were slipping and hired the George Group Consulting firm to analyze its processes. “The surprising conclusion: Avery was jamming too many new ideas into its product pipeline, without enough slack time to ensure that critical tasks stayed on schedule. The remedy: Shrink the number of rollouts.”
“Close scrutiny of its innovation pipeline revealed that the company was overloading its plant planning managers with requests to test new materials. There was no sure way to predict how long it would take to tweak Avery’s plants to handle a different type of adhesive or thicker paper. If early estimates on a few projects proved wrong, scheduling delays would ripple through larger chunks of Avery’s development efforts.”
Avery became more selective about which projects to develop and ultimately, I believe, more successful. Is your organization falling into this trap? Are any of your competitors? Sometimes less is more.