How CIOs Can Bring Innovation To Their IT Departments

by drjim on August 8, 2012

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Making innovation happen is the hard part…

Making innovation happen is the hard part…

“Be more innovative” – how many times has your CEO told you that? Although being innovative isn’t really part of the definition of information technology, CIOs still want their IT department to always be ahead of what their internal customers want. We’d like to be able to have our IT staff be solving problems that our customers might not even know that they have. However, it turns out that in the IT sector, being innovative is very hard to do. Good news – I’ve got three ways that a CIO can capture some of that innovation stuff and apply it to their IT department.

Say Hello To Scenarios

What is innovation? I think that we can all agree that true innovation is when members of an IT department have a breakthrough idea about how to make a process or a service even better. The challenge is in finding ways to boost the probability that someone on the IT team will have one of these ideas.

One way to make this happen is to take the time to create scenarios. Scenarios are very detailed written views of what the future may look like for your customers. The goal here is to make it so that the reader of the scenario can actually picture themselves in the future that is being described.

This level of detail will allow members of your IT department to “become” the customer and to picture themselves being in the future. This will allow them to experience what the customer will experience and may lead them to having an innovative breakthrough idea.

Use That Internet Thing

Yes, someone in your IT department may have an innovative idea. However, what are you going to do if they don’t?

It stands to reason that if you had more people in your IT department, then the chances of someone having a breakthrough innovative idea would be that much greater. It turns out that by using the power of the Internet, you can increase the size of your team.

When your IT department is faced with a challenge that only innovative thinking can help to solve, turn to the Internet. Ask for help and offer a prize or cash for the winning submission. You’ll be amazed at how many submissions you get and it just might turn out that the innovative idea that you were looking for was out there – all you had to do was to ask.

Have Your Power Users Show You The Way

Not all of the users of your department’s IT products and services are created the same. For every product there is one category of users, the power users, who are innovators when it comes to using your product.

This type of user is not satisfied. The current product is not meeting their needs and so they are being driven to use it in ways that you had not anticipated. This is where innovation can happen.

What you need to do as the CIO is to identify these types of users. Then you need to reach out to them and find out more about what types of problems they are trying to solve. Once you understand this, take a look at how they are using your product. You just might be surprised at what you discover – they might be using your product in innovative new ways.

What All Of This Means For You

Yes, all of us CIOs would like to find a way to harness some innovation and apply it to the products and services that our IT department is delivering in order to boost the importance of information technology . However, the hard part is trying to understand just exactly how to make this happen.

One way to set yourself up to make innovation happen for your IT department is to take the time to create detailed scenarios of how your customers go about doing their jobs both today and in the future. You can also use the Internet to reach out to people outside of your company and enlist them to see if they can provide solutions to problems that you’ve not been able to solve. Finally, current power users of your IT department’s products and services may have the ability to tap into the innovation energy that you are looking to find.

Innovation is not something that a CIO can go online and buy. Instead, it’s something that just seems to happen. This means that as a CIO if you want it to happen for your IT department’s products and services you need to set the stage. Follow these three suggestions and you just might be surprised at how quickly innovation transforms your IT department.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Once you have scenarios of how your customers will operate in the future created, who should you share them with?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

“Be more innovative” – how many times has your CEO told you that? Although being innovative isn’t really part of the definition of information technology, CIOs still want their IT department to always be ahead of what their internal customers want. We’d like to be able to have our IT staff be solving problems that our customers might not even know that they have. However, it turns out that in the IT sector, being innovative is very hard to do. Good news – I’ve got three ways that a CIO can capture some of that innovation stuff and apply it to their IT department.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Omar Halabieh August 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Thanks for sharing your insight Jim. The approach to develop scenarios resonated with me, and I have found it to be particularly useful. The key is to get the customers to think beyond the constraints that exist in the current environment.

Reply

Dr. Jim Anderson August 10, 2012 at 11:39 am

Omar: I’m glad that it helped. Innovation is easy to talk about, but very hard to do correctly!

Reply

domy projekt March 26, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Reading by way of your nice content material, will support me to do so occasionally.

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