Rapid business change is the norm for successful organisations and the key to their success is standardisation over long periods of time. This stability provides a platform for innovation and allows energy to be focussed on areas that provide the most business value. Here are two examples of stability driving innovation and change:
TCP/IP is the network protocol invented in the 1970’s that underpins the internet and most corporate networks. It’s not a very efficient protocol but because it has been around so long there has been some amazing innovation. It is now used for broadcasting television and for making telephone calls. The inventors could never have conceived of that. Additionally, if we were to create a protocol for broadcast television and telephone calls it would not be TCP/IP.
In terms of a business example, Salesforce.com have used this concept to give themselves significant business benefits. The Salesforce.com platform was created with 21 fixed interfaces that can be used by third-parties. This has led to a massive amount of innovation and the emergence of thousands of third-party applications and businesses that enhance the Salesforce.com platform. You can see them all here – http://appexchange.salesforce.com/home.
Enterprises can use this concept to create their own Salesforce.com-like interfaces for accessing data, such as customer data and product data. These fixed interfaces will allow rapid integration with a wide range of applications and, hopefully, some serendipitous outcomes.