Once you've put yourself out there with the rest of the business, and sold and executed on your ideas for innovation, it's time to really drill down and instill a lasting culture of innovation within your IT organization.
Business innovation will organically generate as the whole team becomes engaged in the business. When your IT employees understand supply chain issues, for example, they'll automatically begin thinking of other supply chain avenues. And, when they learn about a competitor's new product, they will instinctively begin thinking of new product innovations for your company. However, the equation does not stop there. While innovation may start with education, nothing will happen unless a continued focus and desire to maintain a culture of innovation exists. Here are three tips to help drive a lasting culture of innovation.
- Put your commitment where your mouth is. Don't fall back on your commitment to innovation. Formalize ideation in a meaningful way that works for you and your team, and consider having quarterly full-day white boarding sessions, creating contests, and forming committees to keep the energy going.
- Exercise bragging rights. Long after any potential monetary awards and recognition ceremonies are over, the innovation itself will carry on as business is improved. Brag on behalf of teammates who initiated the change. Highlight successes to HR, and have them published in your IT or company-wide bulletins.
- Track your team's success. Did your SAN team come up with a unique way to store data, which went on to be a leading product for the business? Track numbers, and talk about them often with your business executives.
Keep in mind that one of the best ways to kill innovation is to fail to implement the great ideas your team has generated. Once there is executive-level support, start designing programs that foster innovation - and put those ideas into play. And then continue to do so. Innovation breeds success, and vice versa.
Marilyn Weinstein is CEO and founder of Vivo, a Silicon Valley-based IT staffing and consulting firm that specializes in successfully aligning the business and technical needs of IT with the expectations and cost requirements of the CFO.