How can CIOs stimulate IT innovation?

Por: Pedro César Tebaldi Gomes em 04.03.2015

Stimulating IT Innovation

CIOs (Chief Information Officers) or “IT Managers” as any Manager, also have a tough mission to be able to keep teams engaged and encourage them to be productive and, as usual, they have to know how to handle challenges (one of them is the team’s creativity itself). It is necessary to know the importance of seeking continuous innovation for business and achieve competitive advantage through the strategic implementation of facilitator technology on company operations.

 
Check out some measures that CIOs can take to stimulate IT innovation and the creation of highly revolutionary solutions in this regard:

 

 

Listen to the team and stimulate the participation of all

CIOs that start new projects by proposing team debates have a good chance to extract valuable ideas from them to create new support tools. Involving the entire team to discuss an issue, so that each one contributes with their experience about the points that must be worked out in each sector, helps to find appropriate solutions. Even though IT Managers know the company’s dynamics, they may not know what happens in certain sector as deeply as someone who works in it every day and deals with the problems “face to face”.

 

The 10 thousand hours of practice

As shown in the previous topic, meeting employees to listen to them is very important in stimulating innovation. Nothing better than someone experienced in the area to indicate the potential of a particular service and the possible errors. According to the book “Outliers: the history of success”, by Malcolm Gladwell, to become an expert in an area of knowledge you must have 10 thousand hours of practice on that function, which in a daily 8-hour job is achieved in a little less than 5 years. Experienced CIOs know how to make good use of the knowledge accumulated for the team’s and the company’s sake.

 

Focused meetings and routine break

Most companies have the problem of excessive meetings. In addition to wasting time with endless and unnecessary discussions, this process becomes a routine which discourages any innovative process. People who do the same thing over and over again eventually achieve the same results. That is, breaking the routine is important to generate new ideas. So, when scheduling meetings, it is necessary to set a start and an end time and propose to solve the suggested issues, establishing a deadline for resolution and a liable party. Escaping from it is an exercise of unproductiveness and demotivation. It is rather obvious but, in the vast majority of the time, it is not followed and the meetings become a repetition of opinions that don’t get anywhere. Another important tip is to always change the location of the meetings. Most of the meetings are performed by default in a meeting room or by remote conference. Merging these locations with restaurants, parks and events can be an interesting alternative to break the routine.

 

Brainstorming

One of the oldest techniques to generate new ideas is to Brainstorm. Although not new, this technique is still valid to make employees less inhibited. A CIO can use the good old brainstorming to collect suggestions and great ideas for resolving dilemmas. This technique has the power to quickly take the stagnation off the team. Another advantage is the combination of opinions and different perceptions within the same context, which can raise opportunities yet unnoticed or make an employee have an idea to validate another proposal already mentioned by a colleague who did not know exactly how to execute it.

CIOs need to direct their teams, stimulating and arousing their collaboration/participation through a leadership that will make their members feel truly engaged with the organizational guidelines and have motivation to employ the maximum of their skills to make the company grow together and let themselves grow as professionals. Likewise, it is important to let them feel like part of the team and help find the best solutions for business, participating also to the company’s strategic affairs. Brainstorming, besides raising ideas, does exactly that: it makes employees feel they deserve to be heard and that their views can add value to the company, which is one of the keys to unleash creativity and innovation.

 

Vision of technology as an ally

Perhaps one of the causes of blockages to creativity is that people are afraid of seeing the emergence of innovative systems and software as allies to work, and consider them a “threatening” factor to some function itself. Employees are often afraid that their function is overridden by an application or service provided by a supplier and it is necessary to deal with this issue, showing that applications assist and optimize work, but do not extinguish it. Even employees who already work with the development of technologies sometimes miss a clearer conception that they are, in fact, agents that leverage tasks performance but do not replace them completely.

Machines and programs require expert professionals, continuous monitoring and intelligence to handle all data and reports they can generate. Seeing technology as an ally rather than as a threat that can affect labor relations in an uncertain way is an important step to stimulate IT innovation and creativity — even for employees that are not specifically from a same sector, but have much to contribute through their experience at the company.

If this is the case, it is possible to “educate” the internal public, encourage creativity and transform this culture, showing that employees grow with the company, that this is a process of continuous improvement for both sides and that technology is essential to it. You can even stimulate IT innovation through incentives and awards to those who have ideas and proactive behavior for the company, which shows appreciation to these initiatives and also to human capital.

 

Application of agile methodologies

To produce innovation within organizations, it is necessary to have time to devote to it. Routine activities, although important, prevent employees from thinking “outside the box”. One of the ways adopted by companies so that their employees have more time to devote to innovation is the adoption of agile methods that debureaucratize certain activities and increase employees’ productivity. In addition to connect better with young professionals, which usually have a profile with greater guidance to break paradigms to produce innovation, agile methodologies allow a greater focus on “deliverables” that can be anything, from products or prototypes to business models controlled tests to verify their financial viability and practical applicability.

 

Management in real time

Another golden hint is to have an efficient support for your IT and infrastructure area, which enables you to have platforms capable of giving wide visibility of business process and IT health status and everything that happens in your company in real time. Such system allows one to “cross” information for analysis and decision-making in an agile way, in addition to meeting not only IT managers, but also managers in other departments.

If managers have access to all these data, they can also encourage their own teams to collect and identify specific demands of their sectors and thus contribute to the flow of strategic information within the enterprise, serving as a basis for good businesses administration and for the pursuit of the required innovation.

Management support services can be a “starting point” able to show slowdowns and crashes and point out possible interventions, making it easy for CIOs to identify favorable circumstances for IT application and to stimulate their team to think about this task, leaving more time to focus on their business and in technological innovation.

At OpServices we encourage viewing the data related to our core business, and infrastructure management, through dashboards that deliver IT health in real time. In addition to providing transparency among all areas, this enables collaboration between team members who, visualizing the issue, can contribute by sharing knowledge that was dispersed until then.

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