Without innovation, nothing happens.\n\nPeople talk about innovation but they too often take it for granted. Innovation can drive \n\neconomic growth, just like cell phones, PCs and the Internet did. It also increases the \n\nquality of life, with anything from new gadgets for entertainment to new tools for medical \n\nprocedures. We are at a point where we are faced with many challenges: the economic crisis, \n\nenergy dependence, national security. None of those problems will get solved without \n\ninnovation driving the solution. \n\nCIOs have an important role to play here.\n\nIt's easy to confuse the results of innovation and innovation itself. Right now, we are \n\nreaping the benefits from decades of innovation. Think iPods, Internet startups and the \n\nlike. But we're not planting new seeds. Sustainable innovation is the result of the \ncombination of research, development and the application of science and technology. It also \n\nincludes the communication between those communities. CIOs have an important role to play \n\nhere. They drive innovation by making their business partners aware of what new technologies \n\nhave to offer; they also support it by being responsive to their business partners' needs. \n\nCIOs also can encourage innovation by communicating needs to vendors and trying new products \n\nand services.\n\nAccept failure.\n\nTaking risks and learning from failure is part of the process. You shouldn't aim to fail, \n\nbut you should be able to accept failure. In order to create a setting for innovation to \n\noccur, you have to be willing to question others and to share information to facilitate the \n\nexchange of ideas. The key to creating an environment that maximizes innovation is to create \n\na balance of these points. Leaders set the tone for the entire organization, and their \n\nwillingness to self-assess and acknowledge failure is critical.\nThe business world has become short sighted.\n\nBusiness has become significantly more risk-adverse. Longer-term innovation requires \n\ninvesting in things that might fail. So by definition, investing in innovation is not \n\nefficient. There also has been so much emphasis on compliance that the amount of CIO \n\nmindshare and the money to invest in new things is less than it was. \n\nInnovate through the recession.\n\nThe current economic crisis makes it all the more important for companies and their CIOs to \n\nfocus on innovation. CIOs need to be innovative in figuring out how to do more with fewer \n\nresources. They also need to make sure they are still investing in the future, so when we \n\ncome out of the recession, they emerge stronger. It's clearly a very challenging time for \n\nall leaders, including CIOs, to carefully balance current needs with a eye on the future.