June 2017: For your company to leverage IT to meet your business goals, your IT team needs to innovate. And often. The status quo means you’re falling behind. People say innovate or die for a reason! Companies that find new ways to successfully leverage their IT are often the ones that grow the fastest and lead the market.
But innovating is not easy. Here are eight reasons your team might struggle with IT innovation and some ideas on how to break through to the innovative side:
1. Fixers are often not innovators
If you’ve hired IT staff that are excellent at fixing things, chances are they’re not so excellent at innovation — being innovative is a different way of thinking. IT fixers are focused on solving existing IT problems while IT innovators are focused on using IT to solve business problems.
2. Your team is too busy
Just having innovative people on staff isn’t enough — they need the time to be able to practice and apply their talents. If your IT team is busy morning through night keeping up with the demands and competing priorities of an internal IT department, or if you run a lean staff for budgeting reasons, then there’s no time available for creative thinking.
3. Your corporate culture focuses only on wins
If people are concerned that they might lose their jobs if they come up with ideas their boss thinks are stupid or if their innovative ideas don’t pan out, chances are they’re not going to innovate. They’ll just rehash the same solutions and not make waves. Tried-and-true solutions can be effective for a while but eventually your organization will need to innovate or it will fall behind.
4. It’s not in your team’s best interest
Sometimes IT innovation can innovate team members right out of their jobs — which does not encourage them to try new things. Cloud services, in particular, can make staff who are paid to run traditional infrastructure quite nervous. Both employees and companies benefit when IT teams are encouraged to be continual learners so they build their skill sets for the company and for themselves.
5. Your hiring strategy doesn’t include looking for innovators
If you write job descriptions that focus on replicating the successes of past projects, you’ll attract people who are good at that but not at innovating. If you write job descriptions that require applicants have a track record for trying new things and even failing at them, guess what? Innovators will respond. Planning to hire innovators is the first step in creating an innovative IT department.
6. Your company isn’t investing in IT
For your IT department to be able to execute their innovations, they need an R&D budget. There’s only so far you can get with good ideas — you need the resources to try them out. While you can get lucky and innovation could happen organically, companies that invest in innovation are the ones that reap its benefits.
7. Lack of exposure to other industries
A lot of the most innovative companies got that way by hiring IT staff from different industries. Bringing in staff with a different set of IT experiences allows teams to see linkages they otherwise wouldn’t have otherwise. A broader field of perspective and the marrying of ideas can give birth to the most innovative (and profitable) innovations. Tunnel vision rarely produces innovative results.
8. Lack of rewards — incentives matter!
Does your company celebrate wins and only wins? Does it give zero credit for trying something that doesn’t work and blame people for failing? Criticizing innovation is the surest way to run off any innovators that you do have on staff. Instead, reward ideas. Create incentives. It doesn’t matter if the ideas all work. What matters is your IT team knows that innovation is important to you … important enough to pay for it.
As a managed service provider for 20 years, Leapfrog is fortunate to have worked with hundreds of IT departments and solve more IT problems across diverse industries than we can count (although if pressed we could probably get the number). One of the many things these interactions have taught us is how much our clients’ businesses benefit when we apply innovative thinking to their IT ecosystem, from solutions architecture to disaster recovery to troubleshooting. Our clients usually don’t have the same capacity as we do for IT innovation so they turn to us for that and we’re glad to provide it. If you’re interested in finding out more about how Leapfrog innovates for clients — or how we work with internal IT teams to help them be more innovative — please get in touch with us.
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