Is innovation under the CIO worth funding?

Is innovation under the CIO worth funding?

Innovation
Image Credit: http://www.knowledge4innovation.eu/sites/default/files/Eco-Innovation.jpeg

This morning, John Dodge of the Enterprise CIO Forum asks this question: Is innovation under the CIO worth funding?

I’ll let John’s explanation of the question stand on its own, and freely recognize that his question originates from a CIO-centric publication, catering to CIOs, who are interested in all things CIO. Duly noted.

But – to my grizzled eyes, I’m not sure that this is even the right question – or questions – to ask.

Why is innovation within an organization to be limited solely to the span of control of the CIO? Or for that matter, any single business unit?

Perhaps I have the same problem with the funding of an area with the stated purpose of innovation that I have with having a Chief Innovation Officer, that’s somehow supposed to magically transform their organization.

Everyone in the enterprise – from the lowliest staffer to the top of the food chain – should be invested in doing what they do; better, faster, ever-more efficient. Setting up funding under the CIO specifically for innovation? We should set up budgets for “serendipity” and “luck” while we’re at it.

If you’ve paid attention over the last several years in the IT space, you’ve certainly heard the term bimodal IT (Can’t go to a Gartner presentation without seeing at least one slide with this on it) – that is, the conceit that IT really operates in a lets-keep-the-lights-on-and-the-servers-working mode, and an agile (the fleet of foot kind and methodology kind) mode, where innovative thinking is encouraged to exploit new opportunities as they present themselves in the new digital age.

In truth, the world is not this straightforward. Business is intrinsically multi-modal and multi-valent.

And innovation – even, and especially, technological innovation – is no longer under the sole purview of your IT organization.

Why do we need to maintain racks and racks of servers in our enterprise, when Infrastructure-as-a -Service (IaaS) is commoditized, safe, and increasingly reliable – especially if our main line of business is not technology driven to begin with?

Perhaps that is a question we should be asking. It’s certainly innovative.

More and more, internal departments no longer wait upon IT to deliver technology solutions, when they can get what they need in a ready-to-buy Software-as-a-Service offering. Where does IT fit into this new landscape?

That sounds like a question to be asked.

Who gets to innovate is not a funding question – it’s an existential one.

And so, if someone asks: is innovation under the CIO worth funding? The answer is a resounding “no.”

The tl;dr version of my argument is this – if you’re asking whether innovation as a concept is something to be carved out of a single business unit, rather than asking the larger existential question about the overall role of innovation in your organization – then you’re absolutely asking the wrong question.

Twitter in the Classroom at Hendrix College

Twitter in the Classroom at Hendrix College

Hendrix’s own Dr. Robert Williamson Jr. spoke with Dr. Amanda Hagood of the ACS about how he uses Twitter in the classroom. Participants from across the country joined in and asked questions ranging from how social media ties into course objective to supporting students who may not have a computer or mobile device.

You can also view the discussion here and see additional questions referenced.

LinkedIn Contacts

LinkedIn Contacts

My “twitterpal” Ruth Marie Sylte showed some love for my LinkedIn Contacts Facebook Application in her blog today.

Thanks, Ruth, for a very nice endorsement.

It’s Free – Stop Your Bitching

It’s Free – Stop Your Bitching

Every time I read a post like this I think “that person doesn’t mind having his time wasted.”

There is a cost in lost opportunity. I for one actually transact business as a result of Twitter participation, and when it is down, it IS a lost opportunity cost and money lost.

Plenty of companies are being built of upon the assumption that Twitter is available – TwitterPhone and about 200+ API developers for example. I guess that they have nothing to bitch about, either.

Also, I would like to point out that Twitter is no where NEAR 9 nines of availability.

It is not the audience’s fault if Twitter cannot figure out a revenue model. I don’t blame my customers if I cannot sustain enough business to keep my idle hands fully occupied – that’s why they call it “work.”

Twitter will one day make money on the community being built. Ergo, there is value to participation and this whole notion of “it’s free – shut up” will be exposed for the BS it is.

If You Want Something, You Gotta Ask

If You Want Something, You Gotta Ask

I had something pretty neat happen today.

Watching the growing success of Alltop.com, I wondered: how do I get my blog listed on Alltop.com?

The Answer?

You gotta ask.

I got on Twitter and wrote Guy Kawasaki a brief Direct Message saying that I didn’t really know how to classify my blog, Logorrhea – but if he felt it good enough to be on Alltop, please classify how he felt best.

Five minutes later, there it was, listed under http://life.alltop.com.

Pretty doggone impressive turn around – and I’m assuming that Guy took this on personally, owing to how quickly this all happened.

THAT’S engagement.

If you really want something, simply ask.

Thank you, Guy.

Use the Right Tool for the Right Job

Use the Right Tool for the Right Job

Lots of stories today in the “echo chamber” about the departure of the Twitter architect, and claims flying about concerning whether Ruby on Rails was the appropriate choice of platform for Twitter, given Twitter’s well known propensity to be indisposed (I’ve already used “suck” in a post in the past couple of days – trying to expand my vocabulary).

I just finished reading several comments / articles about how Ruby on Rails CAN scale, if only… if only the database is partitioned properly, if only the site is properly cached, if only one held your tongue just so while clicking submit.

My thoughts drifted to that well worn bromide “when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

There are just times when we need to step back and be brutally honest with ourselves. Sometimes the tools and skillsets we love best are not the most appropriate tools and skillsets for a given job, and certainly not for EVERY job.

When it’s your livelihood you’re talking about, one tends to overlook that little gem, in the belief that you CAN make it work – I must make it work – even in the face of evidence that (a) my tools are not the most appropriate or (b) I am not the person for the job.

A good friend of mine used to joke that extremely difficult programming tasks (usually doled out by a last minute customer request contrary to all prior work we had done on a system) was akin to doing “brain surgery with a butter knife.” Sure – you can do it. But you’re not going to be happy with the results in the way that you WOULD have been had you only had a scalpel on hand.

We all do this, all the time, even if we’re not programmers.

A pair of pliers CAN drive in a nail – sort of – if a hammer isn’t handy. Not so good if you have 50 nails to hammer in. Impossible if you have to hammer in enough nails to replace a roof, when even an ordinary hammer wouldn’t suffice and one would more properly use a pneumatic hammer. But if a pair of pliers is all you have to work with, then by god, that nail is going in. Deep.

In short, sometimes we simply choose the wrong tool for the wrong job because of expediency and not efficiency.

When our incompetency in the choice of the tools we use affects only ourselves, it is merely reduced personal efficiency and inconvenience. When our incompetency in this regard affects the efficiency and productivity of others, it borders on negligence.

I’m passing no judgment specifically on any single person at Twitter for what has gone on this year with availability and uptime.

What I can broadly say is that whatever they were doing, it wasn’t working.

Attaining Critical Mass, without Exploding

Attaining Critical Mass, without Exploding

I’ve always been one to not suffer fools gladly.

One of the challenges I face in my adult life is to harness my inclination to say the first thing that pops into head whenever someone says or does something utterly stupid, myself included. Honestly, I am a stupidity carrier at times.

But something is happening to me as I travel the wilds of the Social Networking ecosystem. I find that I am connecting with more and more people who talk a lot of game, but are more interested in the how many ways the game may be played rather than the objective of the game itself – namely, produce something of value; more profits, better living conditions, better products, smarter kids… name your favorite metric of success.

I’m finding more and more people are simply concerned with attending the next conference, meetup / Tweetup, breakfast, lunch, dinner – and less interesting people who are doing. Doing. Doing.

My realization shouldn’t be all that surprising, because all of the doers ARE doing, not tweeting about it. Not blogging about it. And before anyone hits me with the “irony” tag, yeah, I do realize the irony of blogging about the futility of blogging as opposed to doing something useful. I get it.

Believe me – I am not ranting against social media and how it can transform our reach.

Social Media and the great tools coming from the community are tremendous force multipliers – but for both bad AND good.

Like Springsteen sang, “Fifty seven channels and nothing on.” We are becoming a community of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

People, if the world of communications is really going to be transformed in a positive way, the end result should be a better workplace, a better world, better products, better standards of living, better knowledge – and not just more of the same people attending conferences and contributing to the mutual circle jerk of self congratulation.

Still seeking critical mass without having my head explode. I am failing miserably this morning.