There’s an interesting piece called “Reliability vs Validity” by Roger L. Martin over on BusinessWeek. For industrial designers out there (especially those familiar with the belly of the corporate beast) this is an interesting articulation of what many of us have seen to be the case. I’m sure many designers know what it feels like to sit in team meetings where the project manager downplays design issues and then devotes the lion’s share of the meeting to “reliability” concerns. Considering that most of the project managers I’ve dealt with are people who worked their way up through “reliability” fields, this is no surprise to me. Maybe what the CEO/CVO needs to be looking at is why there aren’t more “validity” people entering the upper-management pipeline. If all you have are “reliability” people calling the shots, there’s a good chance you’re going to get an Aztec.
By the way, this piece reminded me of Nussbaum’s blog entry “Operationalizing Innovation–THE hot topic“. When the organization chart is stacked with “reliability” people (especially short-term thinkers – see my comment over on that page), there’s probably very little chance it’ll be innovative.