Organisations that are seeking to successfully drive innovation and underpin business transformation primarily through the use of technology, Cloud in particular, risk missing the mark unless a systemic and integrated view is taken of their intentions.
Nothing comes for free. The fruits of innovation, agility and speed, are typically as a result of a number of factors including: Seeking evidence, not opinions in support of key decisions, and deliberate planning and careful consideration of all the key forces at play, in and around the organisation at the time.
No stand-alone discipline
Specific disciplines such as project management, agile and information security by themselves are self-limiting. Each discipline is only really effective when operated in orchestration with the other key moving parts of the organisation. For example, a highly effective and well governed project management process could deliver a beautiful aircraft on time and on budget, but the problem is that it might not fly.
Agile development, on the other hand, promotes waste elimination and efficiency based on the concepts of iteration and collaboration. The challenge here is that, in certain respects, innovation can be inefficient, and possibly seen as wasteful. On the security and risk front, having an inappropriately meticulous and rigorous focus on risk and information security may give rise to an unduly risk-averse culture that inhibits innovation and ‘pushing the envelope’.
The interaction and co-dependence between the various disciplines should not be underestimated as trivial, localised technology projects.
Each technology has its own purists. These are sometimes termed ‘evangelists’, whose primary purpose is to promote a specific technology solution with a view to broad adoption. They can also act as an inhibitor to effective collaboration within the organisation due to the polarisation of opinions that could arise from their singular view of the world.
At the core of any successful innovation or business transformation lies good design, be that technical, organisational, structural, or process. Good design needs to occur at multiple layers and requires deliberate and careful orchestration to bring to fruition. The appropriate culture is one of transparency, integration, alignment and collaboration, something that is often in short supply in siloed organisations with a fragmented approach to enterprise wide innovation and transformation initiatives.
Innovation – the CEO’s most wanted for 2012
Adaptability, organisational agility and innovation are currently all on the ‘most wanted’ list of CEOs. In PricewaterhoueseCoopers’ 2012 CEO Survey (PDF), 75 per cent of CEOs plan to change innovation capacity in 2012, of which 24 per cent expect ‘major change’. Paradoxically, the eighth annual KPMG 2012 Audit Institute Report identified “IT risk and emerging technologies” as the second-highest concern for audit committees.
Consider the risks
Organisations (and their customers) demand speed, innovation, agility and value, largely facilitated by technology. However, organisations that adopt new ‘transformational’ technologies, Cloud in particular, without effective consideration of the systemic and longitudinal risks, are potentially setting themselves up for future problems, or not maximising the opportunities, or both. If, however, the organisation suffers from strategic myopia, or the key decision makers are only planning to be around for the short term, then this is not going to be a problem.
Managing transformation successfully requires a realignment and a careful analysis of the interactions between existing and well established disciplines and methodologies, specifically in the areas of project management, agile application development and information security.
Rob Livingstone is an accomplished CIO, author, academic and owner of Rob Livingstone Advisory Pty Limited – a niche independent IT Consulting and Advisory practice based in Sydney with deep expertise enterprise IT. Rob has more than 30 years of managerial experience in the corporate world, half of which as a CIO in a number of multinationals, most recently as CIO of Ricoh in Australia.
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