Contagious innovation and contract management

Is innovation contagious? It’s an interesting question, and two people who investigated the question in Silicon Valley have an answer: Yes, it is — literally.

image of collaboration
Does proximity matter when it comes to innovation?

Jeanne G. Harris and Allan E. Alter of the Accenture Institute for High Performance report in a recent Harvard Business Review blog post write about the “infectious” nature of innovation (we prefer the term “contagious”). They decided to study companies in the IT/high-tech and innovation-rich Silicon Valley area and more traditional business in the San Francisco bay area.

What they found was that innovative practices seem to have a way of migrating to more traditional businesses.

They cite, for example, the experiences of the Gap Inc. and The Clorox Co., both well-known and very conventional brands (retail) that say the innovation found in “the Valley” has made an impact on their businesses.

Both companies, according to Harris and Alter, have adopted “Valley-like” IT practices that focus on agility and speed of IT initiatives. Gap has remodeled its IT infrastructure to focus on open-source software and has even literally remodeled office spaces to get rid of cubicle walls (to assist collaboration).

Clorox has dipped even further into “Valley-like” practices which include pairing IT development groups with their “business-side colleagues” to ensure apps are developed with end-users in mind.

What’s really interesting about the article, though, is that many people, if they’ve been at one company for any length of time, may have seen this play out on a small scale.

If you’ve worked at any company for a steady length of time, you know that good ideas – good software – or just good process ideas tend to spread around a company. Someone comes up with a great Excel version of reporting, for example, and next thing you know everyone is borrowing it as a template.

Implementing a contract management solution may have the exact same kind of effect on your company. For those who are considering implementing a contract management solution, when trying to persuade others of its usefulness, emphasize that it focuses on practices that lead to greater efficiency.

A contract management solution such as Contract Assistant does this by:

  • — Centralizing information dispersed throughout the enterprise (and therefore hard to find or extremely difficult to analyze).
  • — Creating electronic forms which can then be accessed and reviewed quickly (and customized).
  • — Includes customized fields and fields for extensive note which further ensure all-in-one-place efficiency of information management.
  • — Includes a reports function which can be highly customized, filling a need for quick reporting or in-depth analysis.


All of these practices – centralization, electronic form creation, enhanced data collection and analysis – are key best practices implemented when organizations tackle efficiency problems.

For those already employing a contract management solution, you may want to focus on the efficiencies gained – and even present your “lessons learned” to other departments. Doing so not only helps to explain the ROI of contract management, you may be sparking other ideas on best practices.

It’s very easy to think of innovation in terms of ground-breaking, “bleeding edge” practices or software. But sometimes the biggest changes an organization can make comes from applying best practices to old problems.