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An Innovative Approach to Innovation

Is your approach to innovation, for lack of a better word, innovative? Leading highly impactful innovation programs is almost half the job of today’s CIO, so even a modest attempt at trying something new is worth its weight in gold. Here to put things into perspective with five, one-size-fits-all tactics is CIO UK’s Chris Eversfield.

5 Truths of Successful Innovators

  1. Innovation is not invention.
  2. The CIO doesn’t own it.
  3. Reflecting the customer
  4. Creativity is often methodical.
  5. Money is both means and end.

Not every innovation changes the world per se. Most are just the novel application of an old idea. It’s important for CIOs to understand that innovation is not invention. It’s not about starting from scratch. Some innovations will be low-stakes, low-cost, and low-impact. Others will be transformative and risky. And none will be wholly owned by the CIO or IT:

The impact of a successful innovation initiative will have wide reaching benefits but for long term success innovation should not and must not be exclusively driven by those holding the technology agenda. We may be the custodians of an initiative and have a more substantial role than many in deploying solutions but fundamentally in my experience for ‘innovative’ approaches to really succeed they must be driven by an underlying organisation need and strong functional sponsors who will support, celebrate and adopt the fruits of all your hard earnt labours in their own areas. Frankly, there is little point the CIO and their team crafting a new tool for the Operations team if they aren’t going to use it.

The best ideas, in fact, come from the customer, and a successful innovation may simply require the effective regurgitation of their wishes in the form of a new tool or streamlined process. Cast a wide net, as the best ideas may lie outside of the organization or in the ‘great beyond’ of academia. Have you considered crowdsourcing lately?

For the CIO who commands his team to “have ideas daily” there is little hope. The creative process is often not as spontaneous or whimsical as one might suppose. There’s often a formalized application of trial and error at work in organizations that excel at innovation.

Oh, and did I mention these initiatives cost money? Decidedly, at least half the effort of innovation for the CIO requires rounding up the necessary funding, wrestling an adequate budget to the floor. Aside from attaining financial means, there needs to be a justification for innovation in the form of financial ends. If the improvement cannot be monetized for the business, just exactly what is being improved?

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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