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FCW : May 30, 2014
the organization, systems facilitate timely access to it. Throughout the internal organization and with external partners involved with the innovation, information regarding the development of the innovation and its consequences needs to ow and be used. Cross-functional teams (widely used in product development) enable communication through the different knowledge bases of team members or through a plan that describes when certain functions will join the team. Formalized systems also facilitate communication with internal and external partners through periodic planning and review meetings and explicit milestones. Microsoft and Compaq used these systems during software and hardware product development. • Coordination. The third role of innovation systems is coordination between projects and teams with minimum effort. An example of a coordination system is a plan to allow parallel work on projects with minimal communication. For instance, of ces in California, London and India that all use the same shared tracking system but at different hours can achieve three times the work in a day as other companies. Projects that run around the clock in different parts of the world are possible because of communication technology and the discipline that systems impose. Ensuring that resources are available on time is another coordination issue that systems facilitate. • Learning. Systems establish a discipline to manage the knowledge that is constantly created in innovation. Systems can capture the information on the innovation performance throughout the life of the initiative (idea through commercialization) and make it available to the innovation team and management. The information can be used to identify problems and potential improvements. More important, learning increases the understanding of the innovation process itself. Every time an innovation project is executed, something is learned about how to improve it, especially for incremental projects in which similar efforts are undertaken repeatedly. Innovation systems are like software; new versions are periodically released to improve on previous versions. A system for capturing and coding learning enables that to happen. Knowledge is also generated about the business model, the technology and opportunities that are identi ed but cannot be pursued within the framework of the current project. Knowledge may be relevant not only to the current project, but also to future projects. It needs to be retained to bene t the organization and enhance competitive advantage. It is often said, "If our company only knew what our company knows, many problems would not exist." Knowledge management systems facilitate remembering or knowing what you know. • Alignment. The fth role of innovation systems is to align the objectives of the various constituencies. People throughout an organization need to understand the strategy and its implications for operations. As an institution grows larger, senior management cannot rely on informal, social interactions as the vehicle to achieve this alignment of understanding and behavior. A system is needed to ensure consistency of message and inclusiveness. Innovation systems also align organizational objectives with personal objectives. The information regarding the innovation performance needs to be communicated and compared to the innovation objectives. This allows people in the organization to assess how their actions t the organization s innovation objectives. If the performance does not match the objectives, time is spent analyzing the system cause of the discrepancy. This gives people a better understanding of the linkages between innovation strategy and its operational context. Properly designed systems can help bring together the right people and the right knowledge to create the activities required to make innovation happen. ■ May 30, 2014 FCW.COM 25 Make innovation work at your agency FCW and ACT-IAC's Institute for Innovation are hosting a half-day seminar on June 12 to explore the challenges of innovating at large organiza- tions and to share strategies for maximizing the payoff from innovation investments. Robert Shelton, co-author of "Making Innovation Work" and leader of Pricewater- houseCoopers' global innovation practice, will discuss how to manage, measure and properly execute innovation --- and how those principles can be applied to federal IT. Learn more and register to attend at actiac.org/makinginnovationwork. GREENBIZ.COM
May 15, 2014
June 30, 2014