Hamish Taylor, Expert on Leadership, Innovation and Branding shares his winning mantras on how an ITDM or CIO should start thinking differently to be innovative
It is important for an enterprise technology decision-maker to have domain expertise. However, too much focus on a single domain could hinder innovation. Despite being a non-IT guy, I have something to share with every CIO, and which is common to every business. Breakthroughs always come from the ability of an organisation to look outside its current environment. The environment can be outside the industry or outside its discipline. For instance, marketing can learn from finance and vice-versa. Being too much the expert on one domain restrains innovation. Most of the time, huge business opportunities come from simple observations and not through deep analysis of the customers’ world. Sometimes you will just have to throw away the rule book and simply observe the world and the customer to come up with ideas. If we really want transformation, we need to let our teams look at other source of inspiration.
There is a need for soft insights. Getting soft insights implies understanding the world within which your customers live. It entails whether or not you have understood the little things in the world of your customers like feelings, outlook, and language. These minute details form the base of transformational ideas. If your behaviour is driven by what your customer wants, their behaviour is driven by what their customer wants. So, if you don’t understand your customer’s customer, how can you understand what drives your customer who is doing business with you?
There is a huge disconnect between seniority and customer insights. Another problem with senior employees is the more seniority one attains, he or she moves further away from the customer.
But at the same time with seniority, people take bigger and important decisions. So, this creates a gap in knowing the customer and taking crucial business decisions, which is dangerous. Having a mechanism to share these soft insights within the organisation is very important as the senior team player must know these insights to take better business decisions.
Hamish Taylor advises clients like Time Warner, General Motors and Citibank. In the past, Taylor has also worked with P&G, British Airways, and PriceWaterHouse Coopers. Taylor believes that to be innovative, a CIO needs to start thinking differently in the way he looks at his customers.