cloud

Have you got an “Innovation Killer” in your business? Here’s five dead giveaways

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Inertia has killed a lot of giants. The clients we work with know this. All of them are looking to overhaul their legacy processes, to implement new digital products and to use technology to better serve their clients. That said, an organisation's fate relies on its people, and one bad innovation apple can spoil the bunch – this bad apple is otherwise known as the dreaded “Innovation Killer.” 

The challenge is that Innovation Killers aren’t always obvious. They play it cool and practice passive resistance. They travel in stealth mode. They know that at the very least they must give lip service to the future, even while killing it in the crib.

The Innovation Killer is the opposite of an organisation’s "Change Agent” – that sunny innovation advocate who champions the push to implement new digital technologies. 

Luckily, years of delivering transformative projects have supplied our team with five phrases that we all agree are dead giveaways you’re dealing with an Innovation Killer.     

1. “We’ve tried that before, it didn’t work.” If a project didn’t work the first time, that doesn’t mean it won’t ever work. It might have been tried in the past, but never at this point in time, with this team, and this technology. If the previous attempt failed because of technical limitations, it’s possible those limitations have been addressed in subsequent releases or through entirely new offerings.     

2. “That’s not how we do it here.” Innovation by its very nature changes how things are done. Rather than think of how new digital products change current processes, they should be viewed through the prism of how they improve current processes.  

3. “We could do that ourselves.” If that were the case, it would already be done.

4. “That doesn’t fit with our policy.” Policies are written to help guide businesses; they’re not meant to be wielded as swords to cut down innovation. Good organisations update their policies as they grow and transform, because policies are written to fit the processes and capabilities of the time. Transformational digital products can only deliver their real value if they’re embraced by the whole business – this often means policies need to be updated to encompass the potential of the new technology.  

5. “People don’t like change.” This is perhaps the most common Innovation Killer phrase I hear, and it’s a red herring. It’s not change people fear, it’s loss. Truly innovative and transformational projects are a time of upheaval, but it’s an uplifting upheaval. Thankfully, while this is the most common objection, it’s also the easiest to address. Through good communication, taking the time to explain how much more efficient and productive they’ll be, and how the new technology simplifies their life and the lives of their customers, the Innovation Killer can be brought around.

When it comes to digital transformations, you can’t innovate without changing the status quo. In the face of this disruption, the organisation’s Innovation Killer will inevitably make themselves known and how you deal with them can make or break a project.

The good news is that the Innovation Killer isn’t a bad person (not most of the time anyway), they just have an attitude that isn’t particularly helpful. Whatever you do, don’t write them off or disregard them. By taking the time to understand the root of their reluctance, and addressing it, they can be converted. How to do that will be the subject of another post, but I'll say this, there’s no more powerful Change Agent than a reformed Innovation Killer.

What every CIO should know about Cloud

Watch Angus and Allan talk about CIOs, Cloud and oranges or read the full transcript below.

What should every CIO know about Cloud, well, every CIO should know something about Cloud. I think we can agree on that part.

(laughing).

But, look, I don't have time for... I shouldn't put it that way. I think the era of the CIO that declared that we're a Cloud first business just because everybody else is doing that. I think that's finished and what we're seeing in Australia and you know from my experience internationally, as well, in some of the more advanced Cloud markets is, we're seeing people with technical understanding of what Cloud and other advances in technology can do for their business and that's what CIOs really need.

They need to understand how Cloud gives them and their businesses the freedom to be remarkable, not just we're gonna go there because everybody else is and that might deliver us some cost savings.

It's a variable topic, but I think that, you know. I think first of all, the move to, the move to Cloud is actually a, a move to make your business more nimble. Now I'm, that's the opportunity that lays in front of you. It's not always about cost savings. It's great that cost savings are a by product but that's exactly what it is, it's a by product of making a business more nimble.

I think, I think the agile model that, enables you to, you know to, to be more nimble. You, you need to be okay with value in some states and it's more about getting in there and trying uh, and doing some proof of concepts and you know, and just start building trust and start practicing the ways to make your business more nimble. It's not just about moving applications into, into any eco system.

It's always a great first step, but there has to be back in your mind. It has to be, actually you know, how do we transform this, how do we transform this business into being something that is going to adapt to oncoming competition.

Yeah, and the, the, the, the new generation of CIOs coming in. I think also need to realize that the partners that have got them to this point, can't get them to where they need to go next.

Yeah.

And, and it gets back to that conversation around the inter priority service delivery model. You can't get what you need from one or two big technology sourcing partners, I think. The best CIOs now understand that they need to engage specialists to deliver that transformation in their organisation. That's a very different perspective to what a CIO would have had in the past.

Yeah. Yeah, and I said if I bought apples today, 10 apples isn't gonna equal one orange. Like, it's like you could have a billion apples, you're not gonna get the orange they need, you know to be able to, at the level what they, they need to do.

I'm gonna have to get you to explain to me what that actually means later.

I don't know. I don't know. I just like apples. (laughing).

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Bring Your Humans...

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If you want a tech transformation.

Transformations are disruptive. I don’t mean this in the lazy, cliched, and sigh-inducing “X company is the Uber of Y industry, poised to disrupt the industry”, I mean it is a process of change that requires some adaptation.

Digital transformations involve overhauling processes and reimagining how an organisation does business. It’s not as simple as calling in a carpenter to renovate the office kitchen - although this too can cause some disruption - because transformations are underpinned by an aspirational vision of what the organisation could be.

This desired future state, by its very nature, is disconnected from the organisation’s current reality. It is this disconnect that is the cause of most of the disruption. Humans, being creatures of habit, become accustomed to doing things in a certain way - in a business context, this means using certain programs, processes, or resources to achieve a particular task. Transformation projects aim to overhaul this status quo and ultimately give a workforce access to tools to make it more efficient, more collaborative, and more responsive to change.  

While these are all noble aims, an organisation’s humans must be brought along for the journey so they understand why this transformation is taking place and what that desired future state looks like.

A people-first focus enables you to really listen, to ask the right questions and discover exactly what an organisation needs. This open and frank communication - devoid of any preconceptions - allows you to intimately understand what the organisation actually desires to achieve.

This free-flow of information is something we encourage our clients to undertake with their staff during a digital transformation. It is a disruptive time for any organisation, but below are a few tips to ensure employees understand what changes are coming and - most importantly - why they’re coming;   

  • Collaborative Enthusiasm. During a transformative project, every employee has a role to play and needs to be ready to collaborate across teams and disciplines. For example, the marketing team may need to start promoting the tech transformation before it’s implemented, and needs to mesh with the IT team to make sure their message is accurate and timely. Make these roles clear, and ensure the teams understand what they need to do and why they need to do it.

  • Common Vision. Building enthusiasm and cross-department collaboration is far more successful when the entire enterprise shares a common vision and understanding of the project. Outlining the project and its goals in a product development framework document is one important way for key stakeholders to gain an overview of the project and to communicate the cogent information effectively to employees.

  • Technical Skill. This encompasses not only the skills and knowledge of your employees but also your managers’ ability to evaluate potential vendors and the tech they’re providing. Sometimes the “best-dressed” vendor isn’t the best choice for a project; do your people have the knowledge to determine this? It is important to have an honest conversation with your technical team before evaluating any transformation initiative - what skills do they have and where are the blind spots?

These components won’t fall into place overnight. They require planning and a clear view of the organisation’s strategy and desired future state, but each needs to be addressed. Ask the hard questions: Do your people have the technical skill required for their particular piece of the project? Are they excited to join in the process of transforming your enterprise’s technology? Does everyone share the vision of the enterprise’s future that this technology will usher in?

Also apply these concepts when choosing vendors or consultants, who each contribute a piece to the overall project. How well do they know the product or technology they’re working with? Are they enthusiastic about the project and able to collaborate effectively with your humans? Inasmuch as you can share the details of the project with them, do they understand their role in making the company’s vision become a reality?

Evaluate the answers to these questions before launching a project, and return to them periodically throughout the process to make sure your people’s skill sets, enthusiasm, knowledge and collaboration - as well as those of your technology providers - are on track.

After all, technology is only as effective as the people using it. Bringing your people onboard early in the process ensures your organisation can navigate the coming changes as seamlessly as possible.