10 reasons IT leaders fail at innovation

Tech leaders have been given an innovation mandate, but many still struggle to build a robust innovation capability. What’s holding them back?

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Innovation is an important driver of growth, and many technology leaders aspire to build capabilities that can deliver sustained innovation. But they have a steep hill to climb: A quarter of CIOs who participated in Deloitte’s most recent global CIO survey say their innovation capabilities are nonexistent. Only 11 percent assessed their current innovation capabilities as excellent or leading.

Here are 10 reasons innovation initiatives are lagging and what IT leaders can do about it.

1. Defensive posture
In the global CIO survey, “resistance to change” was cited as the top reason technology change efforts fail. Investments in unproven or disruptive technologies are often viewed as risky, and business leaders are typically more comfortable with “safe” investments such as enhancements to existing technologies. The workaround? Collaborate with business leaders on balancing technology investments across both defensive and offensive pursuits. Strive to create a culture that encourages and supports creative thinking and rewards effort more than outcome, and clearly articulate the organization’s risk appetite so staff can take calculated risks.

2. Lack of sponsorship and accountability
Without visible sponsorship from one or more senior leaders, innovation efforts are bound to flounder. High-level support helps prevent innovation efforts from becoming bogged down by organizational politics, lack of resources, and stunted budgets. Moreover, executive sponsors can help clearly articulate expectations and hold people accountable for delivering business outcomes.

3. Lack of capacity to deliver
Too often, technology leaders ask their best talent to split time between managing business operations and participating in innovation initiatives. As a result, the most effective innovation resources lack capacity or get distracted by their “day jobs.” Effective executive sponsorship can allow IT leaders to allocate their best resources, even on a rotational basis, to be focused on driving business outcomes. Dedicated budget and resources for innovation can reduce the risk for individual business areas and provide cohesive solutions.

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