How can I encourage colleagues to embrace small-scale innovation within our team(s), in order to get things done quicker and to encourage skills development?
(the term 'profoundly found elsewhere' comes from Wikipedia, although it is scarcely used anywhere else apart from a reference to Proctor & Gamble)
I've worked in both environments where there is a strong opposition to software which hasn't been developed in-house (usually because there's a large community of developers), and more recently (with far fewer central developers) where off-the-shelf products are far more favoured for the usual reasons: maintenance, total cost over product lifecycle, risk management and so on.
I think the off the shelf argument works in the majority of cases for the majority of users, even though as a developer the product never quite does what I'd like it to do. However, in some cases there are clear gaps where the market isn't able to provide specifically what we would need, or at least it isn't able to without charging astronomical consultancy rates for a bespoke solution. These can be small web applications which provide a short-term solution to a particular need in one specific department, or could be larger developments that have the potential to serve a wider audience, both across the organisation and into external markets.
The problem is that while development of these applications would be incredibly cheap in terms of developer hours, and delivered very quickly without the need for glacial consultation, the proposal usually falls flat because of risk:
'Who'll maintain the project tracker that hasn't had any maintenance for the past 7 years while you're on holiday for 2 weeks?'
'What if one of our systems changes and the connector breaks?'
'How can you guarantee it's secure/better/faster/cheaper/holier than Company X's?'
With one developer behind these little projects, the answers are invariably:
'It will break, just like any other application would...'
How can I better answer these questions and encourage people to take a little risk in order to stimulate creativity and fast-paced, short-lifecycle development instead of using that 6 months to consult about what tender process we might use?