IT Departments, dare to innovate!

Scenery
Wich companies come to mind if you would be presented with the following question:

What’s the difference between the new companies that stand out, and those who just populate the economic landscape as scenery?

Let’s take the “almighty google”. It started out as an idea of two Stanford University students. Its corporate philosophy includes statements such as “Don’t be evil”, and “Work should be challenging and the challenge should be fun”. I guess that isn’t something you see in every company. The competition for competence is fiercely high in Silicon Valley, and yet they win a lot of brainpower due to their company mentality. Note that I don’t want to sell google as heaven on earth, but I just want to sketch a certain starting point.

The human factor
Now think about the “traditional” company structure. Let’s say we would revamp the management ideas of such a company to be more daring. A typical company has a top-down hierarchical structure. We’ve all been there, and in the end the “foot soldiers” haven’t been given a single incentive to propose anything. Why should they? They have to push their idea high through a stiffened corporate structure before it reaches someone who is willing or capable of making a decision.

Where’s the concept of “the ideabox”? It should be an ease for employees to propose their ideas. In addition there should be a process for peer review of new ideas. So you can bring the wisdom of the entire organization to bear. People should feel they are part of “the team”, and not a just a worthless pion in the company game play.

The goal is to get people talking!

Let’s talk motivation now. Another suggestion is “auctioning” work packages, instead of assigning them. If you would gather your team. Then show them a portfolio of tasks to be executed and then ask them which they would like. What would prevail in regards to success factor of the task? The increase in motivation or the (minor) difference in skill?

The Innovation
And to finish the article, a little rant about the CIO aspect; Most CIO’s think about operational innovation, where they should be thinking about helping the company succeed in their strategical innovation. A CIO should be bringing ideas to the board meetings. (S)he should be more than merely responsive towards the business, and be in there with your ideas. Where the CIO’s point of view should bring opportunity to the table, which the business leaders would have never thought of. Spending a lot of time out on the fringes of the Web is a must, as that’s where the innovation’s taking place. And maybe even spend a lot of time with people under 25 years old, cause they know what’s happening. They are still in touch with what’s “hot or not”. 😉

References:
Can’t Innovate? It’s Management’s Fault (Really!)
Innovation and the Future of Management

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