"Innovate or die" is not just a catchy slogan. It’s the way that businesses need to operate in this market-driven world. And, as technology underpins more and more products, services, processes, and go-to-market strategies, the CIO must be involved in driving business-impacting innovations. This involvement ranges from supporting internal R&D to unearthing and vetting new technologies out in the market that can be internalized to disrupt the status quo and propel the organization forward.

Most organizations are cognizant of this reality. However, few have mastered making innovation into a sustainable practice with defined processes that take into account the differences between incremental change and true innovation. What is needed is less hyperbole and more practical information and examples of how to the CIO can and should support an innovation process to drive business value.

To deliver, you’ll need to understand and internalize the trends, understand the business capabilities required to deliver on sustainable innovation, and assess how prepared you actually are to deliver. Based on this insight, you then need to plot out a strategy and carefully plan your people, process, and technology. From there you have implement — building out your innovation network, and developing a governance model to enforce the right behaviors. And to continually improve, you need to focus on metrics, peer comparison, and change management.

This is all laid out in the CIO’s Innovation Playbook, which we’re introducing today. Forrester’s playbooks provide a consistent and comprehensive approach to help you succeed at your most important initiatives. Like all of our other playbooks, Forrester’s Innovation Playbook is a practical guide that focuses our research and recommendations to help you discover, plan, act, and optimize:

  • Discover: This is where you’ll see how we view innovation — what makes it different and why standard processes, funding models, and governance won’t work. We’ve gone so far as to define a set of capabilities you’ll need to master to turn innovation from a random or episodic practice, to a sustainable process. We’ll follow this up shortly with an interactive assessment to show you where you are right now and point you at the capabilities you could stand to improve.
  • Plan: Your innovation plan must include an orderly process to gather ideas, vet the good ones, and build and manage a portfolio of early-stage investments. From this portfolio will come not just the next disruptive idea to propel business growth, but an ongoing stream of innovations to drive sustainable growth. We cover Ideation — where ideas come from; Selection — presenting the Forrester Innovation Heat Index that helps turn good ideas into real innovations faster; and Portfolio Management — where strategic direction, business goals, and technology investments all meet.
  • Act: Supporting your “innovation funnel” is a set of support services — staffing and organization models, governance models, and sourcing models. Start first by understanding why standard BT governance models come up short. Fill in later with staffing and sourcing models to support your internal efforts.
  • Optimize: To continually improve, the Optimize phase will help you manage your performance, develop meaningful metrics, and optimize the change management required to maximize the business value of your technology-enabled innovations. Obviously, measurement and metrics need to reflect the specific needs of innovation, benchmarks must be relevant, and internal change management processes to create value must be appropriate.

Where should you start? I recommend starting with Bobby Cameron’s Executive Overview for the playbook: Thrive With Sustained Innovation In The Empowered BT Era. It will introduce you to Forrester’s thinking on the topic. Then, move on to my report: Sustained Innovation Propels The Business Engine. From there, you can look to the reports in the “Plan” phase for practical ideas on improving your own innovation pipeline today.

The eight reports available today are not the end of the process for us — look for the Innovation Assessment and Build/Buy Capabilities reports within a month or so, and the rest of the reports by the end of the year. Additionally, we’ll be feeding the playbook over time with tools, case studies, and additional content.

If you want something more customized, we have consulting offerings to help introduce sustainable innovation concepts and processes within your organization, to enhance your ideation/selection/incubation/portfolio pipeline, and to implement best practices for change management.

So what do you think? How does Forrester’s vision of sustainable innovation compare to yours? And will our playbook be useful? This is only the beginning. I and the rest of the team working on this playbook want to know if this resonates with you and what you need from us to help drive sustainable innovation at your firm.

Forrester's CIO Innovation Playbook: http://www.forrester.com/Innovation/-/E-PLA170