Seven Tips for Successful Innovation on the Fly

CIO-100 winners share seven secrets to make change in a hurry.

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Letting the IT staff make decisions minus typical business rules was a practical necessity to meet the deadline for the wireless project. "There was no ’Let’s wait for tomorrow,’" Werner recalls.

Yet Hedley admits the fast-and-loose approach isn’t always appropriate, such as when Wyndham rolled out a new technology infrastructure for its hotels this past January. "Those types of innovation need order because of the amount of people and resources involved," he says. "With the wireless innovation team, it was a very small controlled group with only one mission."

Have a Backup Plan

The amount of risk you can manage should determine how fast you can move, says IBM’s Wilson. Schwab dedicates an entire unit within IT to risk and reliability assessment and planning. Usually this team focuses on how to reduce the likelihood that a new system will fail.

With fast-track innovations, the team focuses more on failure recovery because preventing meltdowns takes more time. "There is a natural tension between risk mitigation and going fast," says Gaffney. "Often folks who focus on fast-tracking innovation are only focused on getting that deliverable done and not as much on what’s going to happen if all the planets don’t line up. We strive to balance those contradictory demands."

Managing risk may also mean not meeting your deadline. "I’m not such a stickler to a date," Parker says. "I’d rather have an aggressive target and miss by two weeks than have an easier target and beat it."

Sometimes, business executives decide they want to change the scope of a project -- because, for example, they need to keep up with something a certain competitor does. "It comes down to either not doing what we want in order to protect some time line or coming in late and over budget because we [have to] accommodate the change," Parker says. "People tend to appreciate that we take the time to stay competitive."

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Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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