Just a quick thought as I move from office to office:
I wrote last week about an idea for companies to remain competitive, they need to adopt new technologies to automate best practices in the work space (see “Automate or Perish”). However, I didn’t think about the first requirement before companies can even reach the process of automation: Innovation. Companies must invest in and foster innovation, and build a culture of creativity before they can begin to think about automation.
IT has a bad reputation for being blandly analytical, focused on the hard data, down in the trenches. But even though IT departments build systems and automate processes, does this not require a certain level of creativity and innovation? How do organizations, especially those with legacy systems and inherited (read: grossly outdated) processes, encourage and develop employees to be creative and innovative?
Sometimes the answer is simply to employ a program whereby employees submit projects, ideas, or full proposals to try something new. An open forum works well too. A dedicated innovation budget – no matter how small – is a necessary inclusion.
If you are in a leadership role within a technology company, make sure that you encourage your team to bring new ideas and projects to the table. Remember that, as Thomas Edison found, there will be many ways not to create the next best thing, but it takes those attempts to rule out failing options. There must be investment – even in the small research projects – into innovation and creativity in IT.