Are standardization and innovation in conflict?
I have no doubt standardization and innovation are in conflict, at least to some extent, because standardization (almost by definition) reduces the amount of variation of processes or systems simultaneously used in a company. That is the whole point of standardization. If you reduce the variation allowed in the company, then necessarily you would lose some innovation “that could have happened”. I think if innovation is viewed in an evolutionary way, mass variation would be created by the local units focused on their individual needs and only the best innovations would be retained and scaled to the rest of the company. If all the companies departments are allowed to develop locally optimal solutions to their problems, certainly some of these variations will be better (at least for the unit) than by using a standardized software or technologies company-wide. To continue with the evolutionary theme, using any centrally dictated standardized process would reduce the possible variation in which could be selected from the environment of each business unit. I think the better to view standardization vs. innovation as an inescapable trade-off. Does an enterprise architecture that allows a company to increase operational efficiency, ease of integration, reduce development costs, duplication of systems, simplify the acquisition of new modules, and sometimes vastly reduced maintenance costs worth some drop in the rate of innovation? I would argue that is absolutely worth it in in most instances. The key is to view this as an optimal trade-off where you can retain almost all of the innovation while also increasing standardization. An Enterprise Architecture that standardizes the types of technologies used across the company (PHP/Dot.net or Unix/Microsoft) is in the best interest of the company. When you intentionally limit the available options of each individual business units options (such as when Timberjack...
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