When it comes to encouraging innovation, culture is key

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New rules for the CIO

Innovation is a much sought after commodity in today's enterprise. Executive management looks for it, investors demand it, and customers buy it. The difficulty is that while innovation has become a common term, it's still difficult to cultivate without a few critical pieces in place. Two executives weigh in on their organizations' methods.

Jerrod Chong, CISSP and vice president of solutions engineering at Yubico says, "Ideas come from all parts of the organization, and when properly framed and nurtured, can transform to innovation for that enterprise. Good leadership drives these ideas to fruition by creating an environment where people are forthcoming with these ideas; and having an execution engine that can assimilate them when the time and opportunity is ripe."

Dietmar Wendt, executive vice president for worldwide sales & marketing at ASG Software Solutions adds, "A culture of innovation at any organization is created over time; it's not just stumbled upon or discovered with a chaotic or reactionary approach. That being said, innovation can come from anywhere at any level within an organization. At ASG Software Solutions, innovation is in our DNA, enabling the next great idea to come from developers, sales and execs alike."

"However, not every idea can be really innovative, impactful and profitable. So, the decision to pursue an idea is now part of a process at ASG that transforms how we identify, nurture, develop and exploit new ideas to drive growth, all while simultaneously rewarding employees for trying and trying and trying again. This process is driven by an executive team focused on transformation, dedicating time to thinking about employee ideas and what the next trend will be and how we can get ahead of the upswing to position ourselves, our partners and our customers on the cutting-edge of what's to come."

Both of these executives point to developing a culture within the organization that encourages free thought and the expression of new ideas. But they also point out that not all ideas can be categorized as innovations. Similarly even if an idea is innovative, it may not make the cut when it comes time to pursue the idea and take action on it. That's when real management comes into play by continuing to encourage new ideas without creating a negative stigma around staff members whose ideas have been passed over.


This Harvard Business Review article, "The New Patterns of Innovation." It outlines five patterns that let IT take center stage when it comes to business innovation.

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.