The Two Keys to Driving IT Innovation

By incorporating design thinking and systems thinking into their everyday practices, IT organizations can create a truly innovative workplace culture.

Having started with a design-driven approach, we were naturally forced to break free of our typical technical silos and unconsciously adopt the fundamental principles of systems thinking. We stopped focusing on technical domains and looked at things systemically. We formed ad-hoc teams of people from multiple areas to create different aspects of the new interface. The teams formed working groups to ensure the seamless flow between the stages of the workflow. And the program head was involved every step of the way to ensure that we were getting the experience that we needed.

Creating a Culture of Innovation

In the end, we created a breakthrough innovation that enabled our company to leapfrog its competitors in what was a new and emerging medical space. More importantly, our patients loved it. It mixed quality care, friendly nurses and the convenience of being able to get immediate help from home when you needed it. The nurses, who were initially skeptical and wondered aloud if they would even be able to call this nursing, found that they enjoyed it. They could help more people more quickly and deliver quality clinical outcomes.

Unwittingly, we had stumbled upon what I believe are the two secret keys to driving sustainable innovation in an IT organization. By being forced to understand the nurse, the role of nurses, and the experience that needed to exist between them and the patient, we embodied industrial design principles. We were forced to focus on the entire package of form and function. From there, we were unable to simply fall back on our technical silos. By breaking down the silos and looking at our technical and application infrastructure as one system, we embodied systems thinking and created a highly integrated system that emulated the nurse-patient experience.

I wish I could tell you that this approach became our new normal. It didn’t. We did not understand how powerful this approach was and that it was something that could be replicated. But it can. And it must. If you are an IT leader who is ready to take your IT organization to the next level, then innovation is the only way to get there. Design thinking and systems thinking can help you unlock the innovation potential of your organization. Embrace them. Practice them. And then go make the world a little bit better.

About the Author

Charles Araujo is the founder and CEO of The IT Transformation Institute, which is dedicated to helping IT leaders transform their teams into customer-focused, value-driven learning organizations. He is the author of the book The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change, is presently at work on two new books. Araujo is also the creator of DeepRoots, an organizational change methodology designed for IT teams. He frequently speaks and writes on a wide range of subjects related to his vision of the future of IT. You can follow him on Twitter as @charlesaraujo.

This article was originally published on 04-23-2013
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.

Click for a full list of Newsletterssubmit