By Tony Velleca, Joint CIO and Vice President - Services and Solutions
Most CIOs I know are highly creative people. They have to constantly assess new technologies, design new ways to solve problems, and manage complex implementations throughout global organizations.
Sure, there is a lot of technical knowledge behind each of those tasks. But it takes an agile mind to accomplish all of that successfully.
CIOs have traditionally been responsible for maintaining an organization’s IT machine – which means that most of a CIO’s budget is allocated to maintenance and operations. So they haven’t always been able to let their creativity run wild.
Cloud computing enables two important shifts – away from the left brain, and toward the right brain.
Less left brain – use the cloud to outsource the work that “keeps the lights on.” Traditionally, one of our biggest struggles is how to shift budget from supporting older infrastructure to creating new applications. But now, thanks to the cloud, energy and resources once spent on maintenance can be given over to innovation.
More right brain – use the cloud to test ideas and spark creativity. Take advantage of the speed, low-cost and flexibility of cloud to create an environment that encourages experimentation and innovation. Trade ideas, test hypotheses, and just play around. Get your hands on it, break it and try something new. That’s the kind of environment where innovation thrives.
Here’s where the role of the strategic partner can be critical . A good partner will take on those left brain activities while at the same time enabling the right brain exploration.
Here are some "right brain" ideas:
Make idea-sharing an official process: Create a formal procedure for capturing employees’ ideas, analyzing them and implementing the good ones. I’ve mentioned this in the past, but in my opinion this can’t be said enough. People are creative, but all too often they’re simply not asked to share that creativity
Designate an innovation zone: Don’t just encourage your people to play around, as mentioned above. Give them the place and the tools to do it. At UST Global we have what we can an “innovation gym,” where employees are invited to experiment without fear of mistakes. We can “play” with ideas, software and systems without the restrictions of a highly regulated and secure environment. It’s our garage. But that’s not the only way to do it. Find a way that works for your organization.
Embrace failure: The Harvard Business Review South Asia edition recently published the “failure guidelines” from a UK-based global retailer. The company has formalized rules for when failure is acceptable. For example, when the effort involves genuine uncertainty, when it’s riskier to do nothing, when the cost is small, when there is a plan to test assumptions, among others. This is brilliant. Imagine all the innovative ideas that will emerge from people freed from the paralyzing fear of failure.
But I want to hear from you. How do you inspire innovation and creativity at your organization? What works? What doesn’t? How can your strategic partners help free you and your team to embrace right brain activities?