Saturday, September 30, 2017

Five Critical Components in IT Innovation Management Playbook

There are quite a lot of components in IT innovation management playbook, and importantly IT has to walk to talk.

Technology is pervasive and the information is abundant, business initiatives and digital transformation today nearly always involve some form of technology implementation or information processing. IT plays a significant role in managing information-knowledge-insight cycle and fostering innovation by leveraging disruptive technologies and enriched information flow. One of the most appropriate tiles for CIOs is “Chief Innovation Officer,” who play a critical role in orchestrating innovation symphony. Here are five critical components in IT innovation management playbook.

Intrapreneurship: Organizations no matter large or small, all face the unprecedented change, uncertainty, and accelerated business dynamic. IT becomes the business in the business to do more with innovation and lead changes in many forward-thinking organizations. Intrapreneurship is an important component in digital innovation playbook because good intrapreneur-leaders can first explain the big why behind business initiatives clearly, and then they articulate the strategic rationale behind the venture. And the heart of entrepreneurship is about changes. Intrapreneurship is about discovering the new path for digital transformation and balancing innovation with other organizational priorities. Intrapreneur IT leaders are not only self-motivated, but also motivate teams to cultivate change capabilities, encourage IT staff to think out-of-the-box, and bring back new designs that they might not even recognize using the current context. But, when they examine them in the new context they may be a key element for building the new paradigms and contexts to improve IT competency. Intrapreneur IT leaders also have a better attitude to tolerate risks and show resilient to recover. Intrapreneurship is a unique combination of “being innovative” and high mature leadership behaviors that develop and achieve high quality and meaningful results over a sustained period of time.  

People-centricity: Digital is the age of people and options. Thus, people-centricity should be another critical component in IT innovation playbook. Because traditional IT organizations are often inside-out, operation driven, being perceived as an isolated function and cost center only. To change the game, the biggest IT challenge is to understand the business and customers’ expectations. IT shouldn’t act as a controller only, and limit the business’s creativity. In fact, IT plays a crucial role in expanding the creative side of the business, and unlock the creativity of people. Engaging and empower both internal users and end customers are critical to unleashing the full digital potential of the business. IT now makes impacts on almost every aspect of the business, the biggest challenge to business success is IT and IT has to do more with people-centric innovation to propel the business growth and profitability.

Partnership: IT is no longer that island, or corner and those who still want to stick in that corner or live in its comfort zone! Therefore, the partnership is a critical component in the IT innovation management playbook. IT not only needs to build a cohesive relationship with the business but also develop the varying business partnerships within its digital ecosystem for harnessing innovation. IT leaders should make an objective assessment of those relationships: Who are your strategic partners, who are your reliable supporters, and who will be your detractors? Who will work with you to overcome the changes, and who may try to kick you when you are down? And how do you overcome the objections or barriers that will inevitably raise? The intimate business-IT partnership is the ultimate status for IT to deliver better fit, right-on, cost-effective and innovative solutions. Businesses are looking for “absorptive capacity,” and innovation agility from their IT organization. And IT should also look for innovative capacity from their vendors to deliver flexible, innovative and high-quality customer-tailored solutions as well. The healthy IT partnership is to foster collaboration with innovative vendors or technology startups.

Problem-solving: Digital IT needs to be the innovative business problem-solver. Business is no longer interested in IT if it only provides commodity service because the business managers today can even order those on-demand technology services on their own without notifying IT, it will increase business risks and make IT irrelevant. Thus, problem-solving should be a crucial component in IT innovation management playbook. But be careful, you don’t want to come across as having a solution looking for a problem, running IT as an innovative solutionary means that IT proactively work closely with the business to both frame the problems and solve them effectively. Businesses need IT as a strong partner who is passionate about exploiting information enabled by technologies to work at the heart of the enterprise for solving both old and emergent issues. IT is the custodian of information solutions and data assets that can be applied in new and different ways to generate massive business value that far exceeds what other functions can incrementally bring to the table.

Culture: Digital innovation is not just about “HARD” products or services, it should also include the “SOFT” innovation. In fact, culture innovation is one of the most crucial components in the innovation management playbook. Innovative culture is the collective mindset, risk-taking attitude, doing things differently mentality, asking hard questions, failing and being able to fail again without repercussions. In practice, innovation in the "corporate" world has a lot to do with fostering a creative environment. Because, innovation will happen when people are given free space to be creative without rigid structures, bureaucratic management or risk avoidance attitude to hold them back. In the business environment, being innovative is a state of mind. You have to live it and breathe it every day, otherwise, you would feel stuck. It has to become your business routine, corporate culture to renew creativity energy. The failures should not be rewarded, but they should be understood and not penalized. The culture of innovation starts with a culture of participation because employee engagement in the innovation process increases participation. It is important to educate IT team on the business and encourage them to engage with business counterparts in a value-oriented manner.

There are quite a lot of components in IT innovation management playbook, and importantly IT has to walk to talk, be open to diverse opinions and feedback, be humble to listen to customers, be confident to take the path perhaps no one ever takes before, and be resilient to failure forward. Because an innovative IT is an integral part of the innovative organization and differentiated competency of the business.


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