Sunday, March 31, 2019

Running IT as Innovative Problem-Solver

 Innovation becomes simply “creating value by solving simple or complex problems” timely. 

In the digital era with “VUCA” characteristics, IT has many to offer but also needs to overcome a lot of challenges. To improve its organizational maturity, IT has to transform from a supporting center to an innovative business solver, helps the company develop the differentiated competency, predicts upcoming opportunities or risks, meet customers’ expectations, catalyzes changes and drives digital transformation seamlessly.

Practice innovative problem-solving diligently: Fundamentally, running a business is a problem-solving continuum. IT has the potential to become creative business problem-solver because it is in a unique position to oversee underlying business functions and structures, switch on the creative mode to connect cross-functional dots, and come up with innovative solutions or amplify innovation practices to the scope of the entire company. IT could become the linchpin for the interaction or association of ideas from different domains of thoughts and experiences, explore varied problem-solving scenarios, and figure out the premium solution. The real problem-solving is about seeing a problem and actually discovering the best solution to that problem, not just the band-aid approach to fixing the symptoms; or getting stuck at the “we always do things like that” mentality. In practice, forward-thinking organizations continue to learn, experiment, explore, and strike the right balance of old and new way of doing things. IT strives to provide innovative solutions for the businesses’ requirement, provide value-added feature based on systematic understanding and customer insight, and exceed the expectation of customers.

Channel creativity for solving tough problems: Due to the “VUCA” characteristics of the digital new normal, nowadays, problems that arise in organizations are almost always the product of interactions of parts, never the action of a single part. They become over-complex and interdependent. Complex problems often do not have simple solutions, some may look simple, but there is a lot of effort need to put in. Usually, Information & Technology are crucial components of the premium solution. It’s important to channel creativity to pursue an optimal solution. When you encounter a tough problem, you need to apply the deep critical thinking for framing the right problems, and then, solve them in a creative way. For many old and emergent problems, you have to challenge automatic assumptions that something needs 'fixing.' Thinking creatively about a problem requires being close to the problem, it requires context and intangible variables. IT has to walk the talk, be open to diverse opinions and feedback, be humble to listen to customers; from where it emanates the greater context for understanding things from different angles and figures out the alternative ways to shape better solutions. To connect dots, IT leaders and professionals should even look to businesses outside their industry to spur “out-of-the-box thinking,” and solve problems creatively.

Leverage the power of information to prevent potential problems: Preventing the problem is more superior to fixing issues. It is supposed to be the main principle for problem management. Preventing problems requires people, processes, technologies, and systems to analyze and predict the possibility of a problem. This is particularly important for today’s dynamic digital business. Being a great problem-solver also means that IT can leverage the necessary information to predict the upcoming risks and help the business prevent potential problems. Preventing problems and enabling continuous improvement requires the power of information, leadership support, and iterative processes for identifying, assessing, preventing, and resolving problems as well as reporting the successes. IT leaders with strong “digital awareness,” can sense emergent opportunities, predict potential, and "smell" risks. IT could become a strategic partner to not only help business solve problems but more proactively, leverage the power of information to prevent potential problems.

Businesses today face numerous challenges, fiery competitions and rapid digital shift either technologically or economically. Innovation becomes simply “creating value by solving simple or complex problems” timely. Looking uphill can help to identify the real problems that matter, and on a scale that can make a difference. Looking broadly and understanding deeply enable IT leaders to provide mindful and pragmatic pieces of advice and recommendations to the business on how to leverage IT in innovation and problem-solving to run IT as a great business solutionary.


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