Trace3 Chief Innovation Officer Mark Campbell provided recommendations to help organizations streamline innovation during his presentation to Argyle’s CIO membership at the 2018 CIO Leadership Forum: Data Strategy & Innovation in San Francisco on Feb. 13. In his presentation, “The Innovation Framework,” Campbell offered a framework to help organizations discover and implement innovative techniques.
The definition of innovation often varies from person to person. In some instances, people view innovation as an opportunity to transform a process or service. Others may see innovation as the use of new tools and technologies to enhance an organization’s day-to-day operations.
“The best working definition we’ve found is – innovation is ‘positive deviance’,” Campbell said. “IT leaders are trying to answer two questions: How do I innovate, and how do I innovate while I’m running my business?””
Although technology sometimes plays an important role in promoting innovation, technology alone will not innovate. Instead, IT professionals must not only find ways to use the technologies at their disposal to innovate but must address the underlying cultural, political and organizational issues that often derail innovation.
“Having a shiny new emerging technology does not necessarily lead to innovation,” Campbell indicated. “This technology is probably a key ingredient to innovation … but there are best practices to follow and worst practices to avoid.”
Despite an IT professional’s best efforts, innovation likely will result in failure. Seventy percent of all innovations fail, , but it’s even worse in IT where we see ninety percent of innovation initiatives fail, Campbell indicated.
“IT leaders are trying to answer two questions: How do I innovate, and how do I innovate while I’m running my business?”
Conversely, IT professionals must understand the true nature of innovation. Innovation is not a binary outcome of either Success or Failure. In reality, innovation is actually the culmination of a Fail, Fail, Fail, Success journey. Innovation, by its very nature, is an iterative learning process.
There are three key drivers of innovation: fear, honor and interest. IT professionals who honestly consider all three factors for themselves, their organization and their company will be better equipped than others to determine whether to move forward with a potential innovation.
“If you weigh the fear you have of innovation versus the fear you have of sticking with the status quo … and the pain of where you are is greater than the risk of moving forward, then go for innovation,” Campbell noted.
Furthermore, IT professionals must strive to obtain buy-in from key stakeholders. If IT professionals can obtain support from senior executives and other key stakeholders within an organization, they will dramatically improve their chances of transforming innovative ideas into realities.
“Having a shiny new emerging technology does not necessarily lead to innovation.”
IT professionals must realize that not all key stakeholders in an organization may provide support. However, IT professionals can use a variety of socialization techniques to provide these stakeholders with insights to enlist their support for the innovation initiative to help stakeholders rationally reduce the fear associated with a innovation.
“You don’t have to move everyone to be a proponent. You only have to move someone far enough to make your innovation project a success,” Campbell stated. “For those that are not on our side, we want to minimize their fear. And for those who are on our side, we want to maximize their honor and interest.”
Compliance officers and other “gatekeepers” may make it tough for IT professionals to promote innovation. As such, it is crucial for IT professionals to elicit support from the compliance team to resolve compliance issues before the initiative gets underway. This enables IT professionals to reduce the risk that an innovation may fail to hit the mark due to compliance hurdles.
“[Gatekeepers] are the types of folks that you want to spend a lot of time with,” Campbell said.
As IT professionals search for ways to drive innovation, these professionals should maintain a consistent focus. A proactive approach to innovation can help IT professionals discover new ways to transform everyday processes, resulting in improved productivity and efficiency. Perhaps most important, this approach can help IT professionals become difference-makers within their respective organizations, companies and industry.
IT professionals should always strive to innovate. And if an innovation fails to deliver the desired results, IT professionals should be ready to address potential problems and strive on for long-term solutions.
“Innovation fails because it is supposed to,” Campbell indicated. “That’s the philosophy you need to keep in mind.”
Mark Campbell is the Chief Innovation Officer at Trace3 where he and his team review over 1,000 tech start-ups each year. Based out of sunny Denver, Colorado, Mark combines an insider’s advantage from leading venture firms with his 25 years of real world IT experience to help enterprises discover, vet, and adopt emerging technologies. His ‘from the trenches’ perspective gives Mark the material for his frequent articles and speaking engagements.