by Deepak Seth

The CIO’s big challenge: Keeping employees intellectually stimulated

Oct 03, 2017
Emerging TechnologyIT LeadershipMentoring

Unleash the true potential of employees by making them active participants in "innovation thinking."

2017 predictions intro
Credit: Thinkstock
What do you intend to do to keep your employees intellectually stimulated and engaged even if their routine jobs may be relatively routine and mundane?
My answer is PReDICTT.
Yes, that’s right. It’s no typo. I mean PReDICTT. It’s the acronym for a unique program I have initiated: Peers Reflecting on Developments in Current Technology Trends.
The idea behind it is simple. In our roles as technology individuals, we are consistently exposed to technology and innovation trends, some directly related to our work endeavors and some seemingly unrelated. These trends make us wonder what their influence will be in the days to come. Some examples include Bitcoin, self-driving cars, the Internet of Things, millennials in the workplace, etc. 
We often wish for a forum where we could learn more about these trends and share our own ideas and thoughts with others in an open, candid, non-judgmental fashion.
The PReDICTT program gives the team an opportunity to periodically engage in some creative brainstorming and sharing of ideas distinct from our day-to-day responsibilities. It offers the opportunity to view the world through a telescope rather than the rear-view mirror or windscreen for a change.
A key premise is that “innovation thought,” even unrelated to normal line of work, makes individuals more effective in whatever they do. 
This program is comprised of “open mike” sessions at a regular cadence, where volunteer and guest speakers share their thoughts on a technology and innovation trends and their likely implications. The requirement for speakers is not that they be experts in the topic but that they feel passionately enough about it to be willing to share their ideas related to it with their peers.
In this program, even as we bring innovation thought to the fore with a regular cadence, driving positive downstream impacts, we also strive to:
  • Enhance communications with employees and partners
  • Enhance employee motivation and skills for presenters
  • Enhance the image of our IT organization with partners with forward-looking topics
  • Provide the opportunity to recognize individuals who step outside their primary job responsibilities
We have had many interesting sessions spanning the gamut of innovations and emerging trends:
  • Security in the era of BYOD 
  • Steganography and Cryptography 
  • The changing forms of money (e.g., Bitcoin) and what it means for us
  • Ubiquitous Internet: balloons, drones 
  • Jugaad Innovation
  • Wearables
  • Autonomous vehicles, driverless cars
  • Future of computing
As intended, all are presented by volunteers. What is even more stimulating is the excellent exchange of ideas following the presentation, which often spills over into our vibrant Yammer group with lots of thoughts on how these can impact what we do on a daily basis and our marketplace.
The PReDICTT keywords reiterated at every session are:
  • Share and participate
  • Develop and grow
  • Ideas and innovation
  • Passion and fun
I would strongly encourage CIOs to launch initiatives like this to engage their employees in innovation thinking, as I call it.