Friday, January 27, 2017

CIOs as Chief Intrapreneur Officer: How to Encourage Creativity and Manage Innovation

Digital CIOs shouldn't classify creativity and logic in two completely different disciplines, they are interconnected, and need to be mixed seamlessly.

It's common that many IT companies tend to focus more on their core competencies with age and often forget about the value of innovation. Without encouraging creativity, organizations would be upstaged by the ones that are creative because disruptive innovation will happen no matter how well you prepare. Digital IT needs to be run as a business, and digital CIOs should be the “Chief Intrapreneur Officer,” with “whole brain” thinking: Being logic in your mind based on your years of engineering training and experiences and be creative in your heart, dream big and think big. Because the CIO’s vision will directly impact their organization’s strategic perspective for the long term. So, how to encourage creativity and manage innovation effectively?

IT plays a threshold competency role in building the culture of innovation: Many times, the innovators think they live in the idea wonderland, but in reality, they get trapped in the primitive tropical forest fighting negative competitions. Nowadays even people use the variety of cool and advanced gadgets, but many mindsets are so outdated, far, far behind the digital era we live in. Hence, IT shouldn’t just provide the cool gadgets and expect the new ideas will start flowing automatically; it is more critical to build a healthy culture -the collective mindset to encourage learning and creativity first. Being innovative is truly a state of mind. Unfortunately, it seems creativity is not encouraged in most organizations. If CIOs don't soon realize that stifling the creative mind of IT will set back business, their IT organizations would continue to be perceived as a cost center. It is important for IT leaders to motivate teams to cultivate change capabilities, encourage subordinates to think out of the box and bring back new designs that they might not even recognize using the current context. At the broader scope, IT plays a threshold competency role in building the culture of innovation.

Identify the great innovators and change agents who can think ahead, think big and think differently: An innovator is often a visionary and a pathfinder to discover the new way of doing things. Being creative means you need to get used to stepping outside the old box into unfamiliar territory, you discover and explore your own path. Innovators find more viewing spots than the rest. They find angles to wiggle through where most are unable to even envision a place where there is an angle. They have the ability to connect the unusual dots and see things via the broader lens. The world needs more of creative thinkers who can handle the ever-increasing complexities and discover the new path for leading digital transformation. Nowadays, IT is often the disruptive force of business transformation, therefore, IT talent should use the creative side to discover new ways of doing things that allow for innovation to happen. If you weren't able to think creatively about IT, you would be disrupted and floundering as much as those falling mighty.

Practicing intrapreneurship in IT is to run IT as business and “Do more with innovation”: Creativity is the core of what makes IT strategic in any company, but it is critical that the creativity is focused not on the technology but on how it can be used to advance the business objectives. Creativity without a direction or purpose is building technology for the technology’s sake. IT creativity is struggling to occur and it is the reason many executives believe IT is not business aligned. Good intrapreneur-leaders explain the big “whys” clearly, to articulate the strategic rationale behind the venture, as more often than not, intrapreneurship is about discovering the new path for digital transformation and balancing innovation with other organizational priorities. In fact, creativity and process have to go hand in hand. Practicing intrapreneurship in large enterprises needs to strike the right balance between stability and agility, process and creativity.

The art of innovation is that it involves new ways of bringing together ideas and resources to create something novel. The science of innovation is to take a structural approach to innovation management. IT is an innovation engine of any business in the digital era, to equip people with the latest technology and information, to help the business make the right decision at every level, to capture insight and foresight for the future of the organization. Digital CIOs shouldn't classify creativity and logic in two completely different disciplines, they are inter-connected, only mixing them seamlessly, CIOs can manage innovation effectively.       


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