by Meridith Levinson

Charlie Brenner’s Recipe for Innovation

May 01, 20072 mins
IT Leadership

Charlie Brenner is known for being on the cutting edge of technology. The comedic senior vice president in charge of IT at Fidelity Investments is always on the lookout for the next big thing and is always musing on the impact of that bleeding edge innovation on his company’s business.

At the CIO Leadership Conference this morning, Brenner discussed several technology trends including artificial intelligence, immersive environments such as Second Life, steganography, and digital convergence to which he says CIOs need to give serious thought in order to drive innovation within their IT departments and throughout their companies.

Brenner also shared his recipe for innovation, which consists of:

1. Be privately held.

2. Have a $3 billion IT budget.

3. Be led by a visionary chairman.

His knowingly unrealistic recipe for innovation scored big laughs with the audience, in part because he followed it up with practical advice. Realizing that not every CIO has the good fortune to work in such hospitable environment, he added the following tips for unleashing innovation:

1. Have an R&D group in which the business has a vote, but not a veto.

2. Provide a way for vendors to get a foot in the door without driving you and themselves crazy.

3. Reward audacious success.

4. Be tolerant of failure but realize that failure is not the same thing as success. Make it clear to employees that failure is okay, but that success is even better.

5. Don’t forget the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle.

What ways have you found to foster innovation? What have you tried that doesn’t work? Are you exploring the impact of immersive environments, digital convergence and artificial intelligence on your business?