CIO Corner: Obstacles to Innovation in Business and Technology

Gunnar Branson: I’m glad you’re able to tune in to CIO Corner; we’re having a conversation today with a couple of preeminent CIOs about some of the principles for success in IT, in innovation technology, and looking at some of the guiding principles that are helping CIOs really make a difference in their businesses and their organizations. I’m Gunnar Branson| . I’m the CEO of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers, and I’ve been a consultant in the innovation space for about 10 years.

With me is Dave Patzwald| , who’s the CEO of Coach America; we also have Tim Mather| , the Chief Technical Officer of PMA Consultants, along with Brandies Dunagan| , who’s the social media specialist at i.c.stars and Ronald Coleman| , a resident at i.c.stars. So now that we’ve done a quick introduction, we can actually start talking and get listening from someone else other than me. But at this point what I wanted to start with is talking a little bit about innovation and about the disconnect between innovation in terms of inventing things or coming up with new technology and actually getting an organization and getting an industry to embrace a new way of doing things.

Gunnar Branson: So we all talk about it. Many companies have Chief Innovation Officers, not to be confused with Chief Information Officers, and those of us that are working in IT are usually tasked with making innovation happen. But more often than not, nothing does. Or we do a lot of work and it doesn’t get incorporated. So I think the question here, more than what is it that people can do to do a better job of innovation, I’d like to flip that question a little bit with all of us and try to think about or talk about the question of what is it that leaders and organizations do wrong with innovation, how do they get tripped up and why is it that innovation doesn’t happen? I wanted to start maybe with our two CIOs Dave and Tim—when you think about innovation, what do you think leaders are doing wrong? Tim, do you want to take this first?
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The First Amendment enshrines every American’s right to the freedom of expression. Our goal is to elevate and facilitate the exercise of that right in project planning.

“Chase after truth like hell and you’ll free yourself, even though you never touch its coattails,” said Clarence Darrow, US defense lawyer (1857 – 1938).

Sticky notes on a wall for the collaborative generation of the schedule framework (the planning phase) is suboptimal. The first step of sticky notes on a printed time scale is limiting in and of itself. Transferring the information from sticky notes to CPM software (the scheduling phase) creates a further dissipation of the group consensus. Not only is the sticky note process two steps, but the second step is rarely accomplished in a collaborative fashion. Consequently, many of the benefits of a fully collaborative session are not realized.

Until very recently, the two-step process was unavoidable. With NetPoint we are able to accomplish a virtual, real-time, full-wall planning session, utilizing the Graphical Planning Method® (GPM). GPM is a graphical, interactive, real-time planning method anchored on object-oriented principles and network based math rules. We can quickly create a visual model of our plan and then manipulate the model to explore alternative delivery modalities.
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Time scaled planning 1950s to present

From the invention of the Gantt Chart Jump ahead just 46 years , and you will find Kelly and Walker visually representing a mathematical model with the use of arrow diagramming method, which subsequently became known as “activity diagramming method” or ADM, a sample of which is shown below. An ADM network is logically intuitive. One can “see” how activities are logically linked and how the network as a whole might be impacted by a change to one activity. Visualization is again the key to understanding the model.

However, there is yet another major departure from the past which coincides with Kelly and Walker; it is the advent of the computer as a tool in the production of time-scaled, logically linked schedules. For the first time in the 27,000 years of calendar and planning history, a machine is interposed between the plan and the planner.

Unbeknownst to Kelly and Walker, the combination of a mathematical model for a network schedule and computer power to drive the model would result in the bifurcation of planning and scheduling. Entering data in tables became a new way to visualize schedules. But 27,000 years of recorded history teaches us that a series of numbers is not the natural way to see time and time-scaled plans. Over the subsequent decades, a Byzantine intellectual structure has calcified around the original CPM thinking to the point where some earlier practitioners are now in a state of rebellion against the malformed manifestations of their original conceptual framework.
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