Why it's time to redefine failure in IT

Why it's time to redefine failure in IT

CIOs who are succeeding at digital transformation are changing how their organizations think about experimentation and failure - and seeing real results

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September 07, 2018
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Experiment often; fail fast; learn from mistakes – these have been mantras within IT organizations for years. So why is experimentation featured in a list of new rules for CIO leadership in our newest research report from Harvard Business Review Analytics Services? Because failure acceptance, minimum viable product, and rapid prototyping have significantly transformed the culture of IT in recent years. Leading CIOs are embracing experimentation in unprecedented ways.

For instance, Zack Hicks, chief digital officer and CIO of Toyota North America and CEO of Toyota Connected, empowered a team of recent hires right out of college to develop a high-profile app for one of its distributors. The team exceeded expectations by including innovative features like the ability to scan drivers licenses to pre-populate fields on a form.

“I would never have thought of that,” said Hicks. “But these kids coming out of school – that’s how they think today. If you’re running an operation and you hire these people but then you restrict their talent, that’s the old model.”

CIOs are also evolving their definition of failure in this new culture of learning. At Vanguard, whether something works or doesn’t work doesn’t matter – those are both positive results in CIO John Marcante’s mind. The real failure happens when experiments are inconclusive because there’s no opportunity to learn, he says.

Download the report, “Transformation Masters: The New Rules of CIO Leadership,” to learn more about what Marcante, Hicks, and other leading CIOs think about failure – and how you can further embrace experimentation in your own organization.

The new rules of CIO leadership

By Harvard Business Review Analytic Services
Carla Rudder is a writer and content manager on The Enterprisers Project.

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