Over the last half century, managers have faced one wave of information technology innovation after another, each promising to change the way companies do business. Sometimes this even happened 🙂
The need for IT innovation leads to an obvious question: How can we encourage IT to be more pro-active in being originators of innovation? After all, for years IT has understood itself as strictly a support function that only responds to the explicit and implicit demands of the business. But there is just too much brain power in our IT organizations for us to ignore its potential larger impact on the business. As IT managers, we have to take steps to make sure we use it for something other than just optimizing database performance and storage capacity planning.
Here are three simple suggestions for stimulating IT people to think more about how they can help your business innovate:
1. Ask for it. Few IT people have any sense that the business is interested in their ideas, despite the fact that they know more about Smartphone apps, social networking, and big data than anyone else at the company. A good first step is to let them know that their ideas would actually be welcome.
2. Recognize it. The first few suggestions you get from your IT staff may not be game-changers. But, it makes sense to encourage more and better thinking about business innovation by recognizing the effort people are making to contribute to the success of the business. Post suggestions to give them visibility and let others add their own comments and criticisms.
3. Reward it. Innovation can have a powerful positive impact on company performance and it makes sense to offer powerful positive incentives for coming up with such innovation. Yes, this can include cash.
Of course, IT people should also be encouraged to be excellent at their primary responsibilities as well. Are you doing anything to stimulate creative thinking about the business in your IT organization?