How CIOs can spot innovative ideas

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New rules for the CIO

Innovation is sometimes difficult to control. For some organizations innovation is part of the overall culture, while in others, innovation needs to be specifically addressed and coaxed along in order to bring out the best. Bonitasoft’s CEO Miguel Valdés Faura provides his comments on the nature of innovation and how to bring out the best ideas from the entire enterprise.

Valdés Faura begins by saying; "Being a global company presents its own issues to ensure that we’re always hearing the latest ideas from our staff and our customers. We have our management team in San Francisco and our engineering team in France. To hear those ideas, we have put in a couple different systems to keep the conversation going. One is our internal social network, dubbed Chuck after the infamous and powerful Chuck Norris. This internal open source project makes sure that we are logging and tracking all customer feature requests and seeing any trends and innovative ideas come through.

"Innovation is so important to Bonitasoft that we have a tiger team of innovation engineers focused exclusively on new ideas. It is everyone's responsibility to dream big, but a few hyper-focused engineers can sometimes create astonishing advances.

"No matter how crazy it is (often the crazier the better), every idea, use case, feature request and dream is logged and tracked. These can range from techie ideas that can be quickly added to Bonita BPM to visionary organizational improvement programs. For example, Teach for America approached Bonitasoft with a dream of overhauling their admissions process to get more and better leaders into inner-city schools. How can you say no to that kind of grand idea. You cannot. You need to listen and give them the tools to turn this idea into their innovation." But figuring which ideas to use and which ideas to discard can be hard. Valdés Faura explains; "The most difficult part is sorting through all of these ideas to make sure we create “real” innovation.

I have learned two things from our 4-year quest to innovate the BPM software industry.

  • First, the best ideas need an internal champion who is passionate that the time and effort spent to create something new will be valuable to our customers. That can be me, or it can be the Bonitasofter who joined the company last week.
  • Second, it is my job to keep us focused. Our mission is to give organizations a powerful tool to create and manage process-driven business applications. If a new innovation does not fit this mission, then we are not supporting the 900 customers in 60 countries that trust Bonitasoft to bring their dreams to life."

As Valdés Faura explains, it's hard to figure out which ideas have the potential to further your company and which ideas won't. What is your method to weeding out the bad ideas and keeping the good ones?

Scott Koegler practiced IT as a CIO for 15 years. He also has more than 20 years experience as a technology journalist covering topics ranging from software and services through business strategy.