Some solid advice and reminders for how to shake loose some extra change from the conference room sofa to help fund innovation in IT, from executives at Red Hat, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and more. Before the jump, though, I’d add a few more :
- Be contemptuous of silver bullets, and train your business to be so too. Non-technical executives and business users will be more enamored with vendor promises of easy fixes. The only guarantee is the time you’ll waste either chasing, or chasing away, the huckster.
- If you can’t invest actual capital in IT, invest relationship capital in your business. Generate a steady stream of deliveries to your business, to build trust and rapport. Candidly, most of what your business needs will not be terribly innovative. Deliver that stuff well, even when times are tight. You will build up a reserve of relationship and political capital you can tap later when budgets are more favorable. (BTW, the same goes for developing your team).
- Get to know local university Engineering, etc. departments. Universities and colleges have tremendous wells of knowledge, and are often happy to partner with companies for student projects or other collaborative activities. I’d bet that with little more than a modest investment of your time, you can get valuable contributions from students and faculty eager for “real world” problems to work on.
- “Good, fast or cheap. I can give you two out of the three.” The importance of over-communicating this cannot be overstated.