CIO’s Know That Finding The Right Way To Be Innovative Is The Hard Part

May 16, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

Among all of the other jobs that a modern CIO is expected to perform, there is also that pesky “pursue an innovation strategy” thing. This is so critical that it should almost be a part of the definition of information technology. It’s not that pushing the IT department to become more innovative is all that difficult, I mean anyone can do that. The hard part for a CIO is trying to pick and choose from all of the different ways to be innovative – which way is the best for your IT department?

It’s All About Your People

Where does innovation come from? Can you go out to a store, buy it and then bring it back and distribute it among everyone who works in your IT department? The answer is, of course, no.

Instead, innovation comes from within the people who work in your IT department. This means that you need to make sure that you hire the right types of people.

Researchers Dr. Frank Tothaermel and Dr. Andrew Hess have looked into how IT departments can boost their level of innovation. What they found is that taking the time to focus on hiring and then cultivating the right types of people from the IT sector is what can make an IT department more innovative.

A very important point that they discovered is that not everyone in your IT department needs to be an innovator. Instead, you actually need a mix of workers. Some do need to be innovators – these are the IT employees who can create new ideas. The others don’t need to be so innovative; however, they do need to be good at execution. They are the ones who will turn the innovative ideas into real products and services.

Do They Work Well Together?

Not all innovation in the IT department needs to come from within the department itself. Clever CIOs realize that they can boost the level of innovation by perusing both alliances and acquisitions.

What this means is that it can be worth a CIO’s time to form a joint venture with another firm in order to investigate how their employees and services can make an IT department more innovative.

If it turns out that the joint venture provides enough value, then a CIO may want to consider purchasing the firm in order to boost IT innovation by permanently adding that firm’s resources to the department.

This approach seems to work much better than the alternative of just finding a firm and buying it. Taking the time to see if the IT department and the other firm are compatible before making a purchase is always a good idea.

What All Of This Means For You

In order for your IT department to grow and prosper, you are going to need to be able to find a way for it to become more innovative. Your biggest challenge is going to be picking the right innovation strategy that will work with your department. This is a critical CIO skill because of the importance of information technology to the company.

There are no silver bullets available to make this happen. Instead, what you are going to have to do is to start by hiring the right people into your IT department. This is going to have to be supplemented by having you take the time to pursue the correct alliances and acquisitions.

By combing both of these actions, you will be able to implement an innovation strategy that will work for both your IT department and your company. Once you’ve done this, you can sit back and reap the benefits of a successful innovation strategy.

Dr. Jim Anderson

Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Dr. Jim Anderson has spent over 20 years consulting with a wide variety of IT firms from the very big to the very small. He provides you with his insights into the leadership needed to combine the separate worlds of business and IT strategy. His guidance offers hope to firms everywhere who are struggling with this challenge.

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