What does IT portfolio management have in common with Walt Disney? At first glance it seems unlikely that they have anything in common. But consider that, from the wheel to the Internet, the many inventions that have emerged from combining the physical disciplines of physics and chemistry with ethereal and intangible thought processes have changed human behavior and revolutionized the world.
When you think of innovation you are likely to think of creativity, spontaneity. Maybe you imagine Edison’s eclectic lab in Fort Myers or Doc from “Back to the Future.” You most probably don’t think of Gantt charts, organizational charts, business operating models, risk assessments or roadmaps. But they are part of the package for technology innovation success. Along with every “a-ha!” moment comes scrutiny, skepticism and a lot of trial and error.
You may have heard of the Disney Creative Strategy. It is a tool for creative thinking inspired by Walt Disney (who described his own creativity as “imagineering”) and modeled by NLP expert Robert Dilts. It uses three different perceptual roles – the dreamer, the realist and the critic – during ideation in order to facilitate achievement of innovation goals. As to its origin, one of Disney’s animators said that: “…there were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler (critic). You never knew which one was coming into your meeting.”
But it’s true – there is a very real side to creativity and innovation if there is to be success. New technologies and their usage need to be vetted against many and varied considerations in order to ensure they will truly advance business in its digitalization efforts – considerations such as the following:
- The business opportunity. Is it strategic or operational? What is the size (or other measure) of the business outcome?
- The realization timeframe. When will the technology innovation be available? When will we be in a position to take advantage of the innovation?
- The feasibility of realization. Do we have or can we acquire the necessary skills? Are standards available? If not, what risks are involved? What is the architectural impact?
- The realization cost. What are the costs for technology acquisition? Know-how transfer? Implementation programs? Business reorganization? Business model risks?
With all the aspects that need to be corroborated, an integrated IT portfolio management approach is well suited for supporting technology innovation assessment. Innovations can be managed like any other portfolio: advancing strong contenders, eliminating weak ones, and providing a framework for deciding how to move forward on innovation ideas. The innovations can be assigned KPIs such as those listed above and charted for better understanding and communication. A portfolio evaluation can ensure sound decisions on what innovations to pursue.
In our 30-minute webinar on “Digital Excellence with Technology Innovation” we show how portfolio management can play a role in helping turn innovative technologies into solid business successes. It demonstrates IT road-mapping as a vehicle for keeping the company knowledgeable and synchronized on the necessary changes in the organization, processes and supporting IT. And it shows how the many stakeholders that are involved in planning business and IT transformation can be brought together onto one platform so that everyone can contribute, evaluate, add to ideas and understand the impact of innovations
Oh yeah; there are two other things you need to get technology innovation out the door and onto the streets: determination and stamina. If you saw “Saving Mr. Banks,” you witnessed Walt Disney’s (played by Tom Hanks) relentless conviction in the success “Mary Poppins” would have as a film (with a good deal of “imagineering”). After a very astute assessment of the situation, he finally won over his biggest “spoiler,” P.L. Travers, the author herself (played by Emma Thompson).
Determination and stamina are also covered in another of my blog posts. Find out here how IT portfolio management can be a source of boldness and tenacity in achieving your digital strategy.