Monday, June 26, 2017

CIOs as Chief Innovation Officer: Three “DE” Management Effort to Accelerate IT Innovation

In any business, if you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. There is no standing still.

Organizations across the vertical sectors, no matter large or small, all face the unprecedented change, uncertainty, velocity, and accelerated business dynamic on the journey of digital transformation. Digital is the age of innovation. Digital innovation has expanded scope with a full spectrum of management disciplines, including both hard innovations such as products/services/business model innovations, as well as soft innovations such as leadership/culture/communication innovation, etc. It is important to note that within the organizations, innovation is rarely an individual action; rather, it is a team effort, often across multiple organizational silos, and it needs to connect the dots across the digital ecosystems. Here are CIOs’ three “DE” management effort to accelerate IT innovation.

DEsign digital organizational structures, and dismantle the business bureaucracy: Traditional organizations have a pyramidal hierarchy and overly rigid organizational structure and processes, and traditional management practices based on reductionist-ism principles enforce silo thinking and business bureaucracy. Bureaucratic thinking is a reason behind change inertia or vice versa. With increasing speed of changes and shortened business life cycle, digital leaders must get really creative on how they architect and implement changes, dismantle organizational bureaucracy, keep information and ideas flow, to ensuring IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next. Bureaucratic thinking is about fear of failure; fear of getting out of old habits, or fear to lose the status quo. Bureaucratic thinking generates negative energy which stops organizations from moving forward. Here is the digital management clarity: Bureaucracy = Process Inefficiency. No Bureaucracy ≠ No Rules. From a management perspective, it’s all about the balance of avoiding any excess in setting the 'rules,' but remain the necessary control; keep information flow, but also ensure its reliability and compliance. The digital organization is a hyper-connected and interdependent business system, breaking down silos and bureaucracy involves tapping the organization’s ecosystem for the collective perspectives/insights of those who make up and know intimately their parts of the system. Digital organizations have to be adapted in such a way that it can respond effectively to the dynamic changes and to the variety in the ever-changing environment.

DEcomplex IT management and DElighting customers via taking innovative ways to do things: Many traditional IT organizations are still run with “We always do things like that” mentality, keep the lights on only. The band-aids IT solutions to fix the symptom often add the other layer of technical complexity for the long run; some industry best practices are already out of date and make IT management too complicated to adapt to rapidchanges. Digital is the age of innovation. The art of innovation is that it involves new ways of bringing together the latest technologies, ideas, and resources to create something novel. The Digital CIOs need to be equipped with an intrapreneurs' mindset to run IT as the business and manage both opportunities and risks accordingly, to ensuring IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next. Digital IT leaders should expand their thinking boxes and get a better understanding of the current boxes, figuring out which of them it makes sense to challenge and then applying creativity tools (exploring, divergence, convergence) to arrive at a useful new box. Understand your organization’s strategic goals and initiatives. IT is complex by nature, but running a digital IT is about decomplexing via continually optimizing IT management practices and doing more with innovation to delight customers by providing intuitive products and services.

DEpoliticize organizational culture: The biggest source of innovation within a company is built on culture - the collective mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors. The potential of IT is often underutilized and underappreciated because of a communication breakdown and culture of silo thinking. To run an innovative IT organization, the more difficult challenge is not just launching successful teams, but maintaining their motivation and focus, cultivate a positive attitude and build a culture of innovation and risk tolerance. Culture precedes strategy. When strategy management gets stagnant due to culture inertia, it is the right timing to change. Weak cultures rely on the bureaucracy to enforce rules and regulations that undermine an organization's speed, simplicity, and competitiveness. Different organizations have different strengths and capabilities to innovate, innovative skills and capabilities an organization always needs depend on the circumstances the business is in. Depoliticize cultures and make sure that nothing is dismissed due to out of date beliefs or the natural human emotions. Innovation is about moving forward. In any business, if you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. There is no standing still. A strong culture should have the characteristics of inclusiveness, innovation, and learning. An organization's cultural orientation forms the basis for initiating and improving on strategies and sustaining it.

As we know there are different types of organizations and different cycles in their maturity, equally, individuals have their own professional growth cycles, and also importantly leadership capability mix. The main barriers to innovation are silos, rigidity, inflexibility, static mindset, or bureaucracy, etc. If the CIO can see beyond the confines of his/her own function by understanding all the moving parts of the digital business and contribute to the overall improvement of the dynamic business, then they would know where to make such “DE” management efforts, and when to accelerate the speed for the digital transformation, with the goal to build a high-innovative, high-performing, and high-mature business.


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