The inability to iterate is a recurring characteristic of most large companies I worked with, and in my opinion is one of they key obstacles they face to allow innovation to occur. This becomes particularly visible and painful when solutioning for complex problems, to which the answer is not readily known.
The second characteristic that appears to go hand in hand with the first one, is that they all have a discourse of becoming more agile and innovative – even though all their processes, actions and funding models are geared towards the “build once & deploy” paradigm. There is obviously a gap between the desire to produce innovation and the infrastructures in place to support it. Under these structures, these companies become, at most, good at delivering against predictable problems – problems to which solutions are relatively evident and can be planned from back to be start. Although this is a great skill, it will not help the company successfully tackle complex problems that require innovative solutions.
This is one of the key reasons these same companies typically have less than ideal intranets and collaboration systems – because these are problems for which the use of the “build once & deploy” prescriptive solution approach will typically fail.
Allowing for iterations should be viewed as a strategic element for creating a sustainable ecosystem that suports innovation.