Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Three Aspects of Being an Innovative CIO

 IT can become the bridge between the art and science of innovation.

Change is the new normal with a faster pace and high level of intensity. Ideologically, the highly effective and highly dynamic digital organizations, no matter large or small, have a multitude of digital characteristics such as information fluidity, interdependence, and hyper-connectivity. Information & Technology is the linchpin to run a dynamic digital business. IT leaders need to ask themselves tough questions such as: Is IT system just a commodity with a standardized usage of technologies or is IT a game changer? Chief Innovation Officer is one of the most appropriate titles for modern CIOs, to reinvent IT, it’s not about control, but how to take more resource to do innovation and build unique business competency.

Startup Mentality: Traditional IT organizations often operate with the “controller”’s mentality, to keep the lights on. But now with continuous digital disruptions, IT organizations are in face of fierce competitions and unprecedented pressures to deliver the top-line business growth in order to keep it relevant. This requires a mind shift to allow for changes and allow for the element of ultimate control to be released in order for the change to take effect. Digital CIOs today should have the startup mentality, the refusal to be bound by constraints and limitations and make the pursuit of possibilities. They are good at envisioning technological trends, perceiving business opportunities, discovering alternative business solutions. They can step out of the conventional thinking box or linea patterns, advocate innovativeness as a state of mind, and nurture the culture of learning and innovation. Running IT as the business startup requires visionary leadership and holistic digital practices to apply creativity in areas not being explored yet. IT should work both in the business and on the business, or put another way, they do not work within the box, but across the boxes, broaden the perspectives, and connect wider dots for contributing to the top-line business growth.

Creative Problem-solver: Digital CIOs today need to become both business strategists and creative problem solvers. Creative leadership is essentially anchored on the leader's overall multifaceted resourcefulness. They also show versatility, adaptability, and flexibility in response to unpredictable or unanticipated business circumstance. It doesn’t necessarily mean that CIOs will solve every problem on their own, but they have the ability to think synthetically, build high-performing IT teams, avoid unnecessary process and bureaucracy, and leverage multidimensional competencies to formulate unconventional alternatives or solutions to resolve problems. The CIO needs to be able to listen to a wide range of opinions and approaches and understand how that might benefit the business. With unprecedented velocity, uncertainty, nonlinearity, and complexity, digital dynamic forces IT leaders getting really creative on how they adapt to changes and be experimental to try new things, and ensuring that IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next, and drive changes proactively.

Innovation practitioner: Innovation is not serendipity, but a process which can be managed. Innovation leaders such as digital CIOs face a complex reality. Every industry is different, the enterprise culture is unique, even you have ample ideas, it doesn’t guarantee innovation success due to the possible execution gap. Environment plays an important role, innovation leaders should be able to grasp the environmental opportunities, develop the right knowledge and skill set, leverage the available information, apply the right methods, to give the best results. CIOs as innovation practitioners play a critical role in bridging innovation execution gaps which requires clear stages, information thresholds, decision-making parameters combined with iterative processes that support wide-ranging exploration at each stage. An organization that has a lightweight process which allows creativity and innovation to flow, get protected, channeled and nurtured will succeed more often than an organization that does not have such a process. Running an innovative IT also means that CIOs need to be able to recognize the struggles of the company by understanding the business beyond IT. IT has a great opportunity here to catalyze innovation and lead the digital transformation of the business. Innovative IT leaders should foster a creative working environment, and make innovation become your business routine and corporate culture, to renew creativity energy, allow people to push boundaries and seek out new frontiers.

IT organization can become an innovation hub to bridge the art and science of innovation and get digital ready. 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 can become the bridge between the art and science of innovation. The ultimate criterion of "creative leadership," is to envision the future trends in business, technology, and society, explore business opportunities, build the capacity to unleash human potential, and spread leadership influence.


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