4 Steps To Spark Innovation - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Government // Mobile & Wireless
Commentary
5/18/2011
02:45 PM
Andrew Horne
Andrew Horne
Commentary
50%
50%

4 Steps To Spark Innovation

Most corporate IT organizations aren't ready for a wave of capital spending after years of cost cutting, standardization, and simplification that came at the expense of innovation.

Corporate IT is about to face a surge in demand for innovation, but is it ready? In the first quarter of 2011, 20% of S&P 500 companies reported that their revenue exceeded prerecession peaks. Many more will reach this milestone before the end of 2011. When this happens, the brakes come off capital spending. In fact, that elite 20% grew capital spending up to 65% faster than the rest.

With greater capital spending comes more appetite for innovation, and at most companies IT is expected to play a full part. But despite all the hype about IT innovation and the CIO as "Chief Innovation Officer," the reality is that corporate IT's ability to innovate has atrophied. In many organizations, years of cost cutting, standardization, and simplification came at the expense of innovation. Deploying ERP, consolidating data centers, or completing an outsourcing deal are difficult and worthwhile but rarely innovative.

Besides not being innovative, they may actually be harmful to innovation. The behaviors and processes required--efficiency, repetition, process discipline, and risk aversion--are contrary to the flexibility and creativity that lead to innovation. One leading CIO told us recently that many innovators and critical thinkers left her organization as they battled their way through a multiyear ERP implementation.

To be truly effective at innovation, CIOs must rethink the way IT works with the rest of the business, incentivizes staff, and evaluates investments. CIOs must do this without sacrificing the efficiency and operational excellence they have so painstakingly acquired. In recent research, Corporate Executive Board's Information Technology practice examined how exemplar IT organizations are successfully navigating this dilemma.

1. Foster Openness To Innovation

Andrew Horne, Corporate Executive Board
Andrew Horne, Corporate Executive Board
Innovation entails creative tension and a willingness to take risks. For example, business-facing IT staff must be able to "challenge" their business partners, not just build relationships and seek consensus. More broadly, IT leaders should take another look at IT staff performance criteria to ensure that creative thinking and appropriate risk-taking are encouraged, not penalized.

2. Expand The Pipeline Of New Ideas

Innovation requires openness and collaboration within and beyond IT. We have seen a number of techniques, including regular newsletters highlighting innovations in IT and idea-sharing partnerships with external parties, as well as less conventional approaches, such as spotlighting when employees are working around IT systems, in order to uncover unstated end user needs.

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll