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3 Tips for Driving Innovation within IT Departments

August 01, 2017

In the past, business leaders have been responsible for driving innovation. In today’s age, IT departments are increasingly playing a role in driving innovation. In PWCs Innovation Benchmark Report, 72% of executives surveyed said they’re not out-innovating their competitors and 54% struggle to align innovation strategy with business strategy. Here are 3 tips to create, promote, and foster an innovative environment within IT departments.

Embrace the Smaller Team

For innovation to become more efficient, IT teams need to be smaller. In an article by DataCenterJournal.com they shared that more-nimble IT groups can focus on value-added work for the business versus minute technical and maintenance-focused tasks. This allows IT teams to not only think analytically, but make smart, data-driven decisions. The more hands and levels of approval a project needs to pass through, the greater risk there is it can be held back. Larger teams are also more likely to foster communication and interpersonal issues. Smaller teams aren’t only easier to manage, they’re also less expensive. By embracing a smaller team of smart, qualified, motivated people, collaboration and communication can foster creative innovation within IT teams.

Collaborate

In order to make innovation happen, effective collaboration is key. In PwC’s 20th CEO Survey nearly a quarter of those surveyed singled out innovation as their top priority for the upcoming year. Many companies struggle to align their business and innovation strategies. According to a recent article on Forbes.com, “Research at the University of Tennessee has found innovation and collaboration are not mutually exclusive; they feed and build upon each other.” Collaboration is all about working closely together and trusting one another through new discoveries.  If you find your organization or team is stuck in regards to innovation, consider your team’s relationship with collaboration as it is not an “either-or” proposition. For tips on encouraging collaboration amongst IT teams, check out our recent blog here.

Execute

Many people believe the most difficult part of innovation is coming up with the idea. The biggest challenge is within the execution. Successful innovation doesn’t happen overnight in organizations or teams. It needs to be nurtured over time. As an IT leader, it is important to establish a clear process that the IT department can use when ideas are in the brainstorming stage all the way to the testing stage. In the article 3 Ways CIOs Can Spark Innovation In Their IT Departments, the author explained that “Finding ways to do all of these steps quickly and cheaply means that your IT department will be able to run more experiments and that means you’ll be able to reject the ideas that don’t pan out and keep the ones that provide the greatest benefits”. Without execution, an idea simply stays an idea and innovation is absent. An innovative environment requires having a clear execution plan.

How have you successfully fostered innovation in your organization?

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Posted By: Megan Thurow

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