As an IT Manager or CIO, innovatio is now a must to prove value to the business. Cloud has changed IT now and business teams have started believing that innovation comes by buying saas applications and moving everything to the cloud. The truth of the matter is that there are legacy applications to be maintained and monitored and new features have to be built. Agile methodology has helped in delivering releases quickly and mobile applications have extended IT to the next generation of customers. But the truth of the matter is the wretched question which is How can I prove to my business owner that my IT team is still innovative and delivering business value? Metrics do really help with in this regard with productivity numbers being generated by scrum teams like Velocity, function points etc. The solution is to follow an innovative culture within IT and following simple steps and practices which can lead to great innovations. Innovation is not a radical discovery but taking small steps at a time with disciplined effort which would lead to great discoveries. Here are 3 simple steps which you can do every month which would create an IT culture of innovation.
a. Eureka days(Motivate passionate work)
b. Cool tip days(Encourage Knowledge share)
c. Kill your bug day(Reward bug reduction)
It pains me to see that every business sales and marketing team celebrates there heroes every month and IT teams do not even take steps to recognize there programmers, qa and business analysts. HR does not work for IT and the year end reviews do not work at all as most of the innovative things are forgotten and seldom celebrated.
Eureka days(Motivate passionate work)
All programmers have days where they dig deep on a problem or issue for hours and hours trying to solve an issue. They just do not want to give up and keep slogging the whole night till the can of soda goes burst. Suddenly a spark dawns and Violla!! the problem is solved. The kick which programmers get on this cannot be explained and it gives them the spirit to slog to the next challenge. Why cannot IT managers have developers report on these days and have a reward for this. Just imagine a team meeting where an IT member explains his moment and gets rewarded for it. The problem gets recorded with the solution and motivated. Knowledge share and Motivation happening at the same time. For those of you who don’t understand Eureka. Archimedes the greek mathematician ran naked on the streets after his discovery of the Archimedes principle and shouted EUREKA on the street . We do not have to run naked but at least celebrate human passion and motivation.
Cool tips(Encourage knowledge share)
Every IT member discovers a cool tip on his work by googling or accidentally stumbling on his work. This tip could be a simple technique to make life easy on a tool, a testing practice to overcome manual steps or a piece of code which would do a cool thing. These discoveries should be logged and reported on a monthly basis which should be used to reward the members on it. These kind of actions would motivate people to voluntarily mentor and do knowledge share which will increase productivity a lot.
Kill the bug day(Reward bug reduction)
It has become a norm that IT will create defects and it is the job of a QA to find a defect and the programmer will fix it. It sickens business guys to see there screens crash, spelling and bad typos popping out on screens and they think programmers create crappy code. Why not turn it around? Using test classes and methods, if programmers are able to fix there own bugs which they discover while testing , they should be rewarded for it. This would start silly but eventually it will create a culture where programmers are more responsible for there defects and will try to fix them before they turn out to a QA team. Who knows in another 20 years QA might be dead!!
So by Eureka, Cool tip and Kill your bug days, It management can create a culture of innovation in IT. Innovation comes from the ability to suffer for something, get knowledge on something and finding a better way to reduce errors. The real issue is that IT teams should be allowed to practice and log these days for one hour every 2 weeks and rewarded by the month end. Would IT Management be ready to do this rather than always looking at the next sprints and release? Please feel free to post your comments on this and feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further answers.