Global design firm IDEO is known for its innovation. In fact, many clients approach the firm specifically because they want to learn its secrets. In a research initiative meant to get at the heart at what makes innovative companies tick, IDEO studied its 26-year archive of projects that focused on clients’ internal team dynamics, as well as external sources focused on innovation (including Fast Company‘s annual Most Innovative Companies lists).
One major theme emerging from the research? Many business leaders, including those in IT, hold back permission to innovate. Scared off by potential security breaches through the cloud and employees going rogue with unauthorized software solutions, IT often serves as a bottleneck in the implementation of cutting edge technology. But, as the data clearly showed, the workers closest to the organization’s most pressing business challenges are the ones who play the most critical roles in leveraging innovation to solve them.
At FastCoDesign, Katharine Schwab reported the main recommendations gleaned from IDEO’s data. Let’s highlight those, along with some ideas for encouraging IT to greenlight your initiatives.
Keep lots of options open
The IDEO research indicated that when teams iterate on five or more different solutions, they are 50 percent more likely to launch successfully. This is contrary to the traditional viewpoint that you should pilot and invest heavily in only one idea at a time. Staying flexible as to where the project might go also allows you to iterate alongside IT and accept that team’s suggestions for how to best move forward.
Challenge existing processes
IDEO found that when the majority of team members said that they felt comfortable challenging the status quo and acting with autonomy, the chances of a failed launch decreased by nearly 17 percent. Talk to your IT group about how you can experiment in a safe way that doesn’t result in any unnecessary risks to the organization or its technology infrastructure. Share best practices and seek IT’s partnership in the realm of process improvement.