IT professional make innovations
By Lt. Col. Jeff Granger , 14th Communications Squadron commander
/ Published September 14, 2007
COLUMBUS AFB, Miss. --
Many information technology professionals view innovation as the next network device or software tool that will reduce glitches or wow the customer. The "innovation" is the latest and greatest technology, so it must be the perfect choice to make the organization better. That train of thought misses the mark. Technology does not make the organization better. The organization makes technology better.
Our organization must educate to innovate. Like you, I have completed a great deal of course work in my Air Force career. However, I must continue to look beyond those lessons and outside of my functional area to learn about many other aspects of the Air Force and the world. I may simply run through an online article on the Romanian automobile industry. I could look to the Medical Group to learn the basics of the bioenvironmental program and mission. I might simply ask an Airman in the squadron what his hobby is. The idea is to simply look around.
Why? Innovation is dependent on thought. Somewhere in all of this new information is a concept or image that will apply to your needs or trigger creative senses to come up with a new idea to tackle a problem or improve a capability. That creativeness is the basis for innovation. Making the creative idea a reality is innovation.
Make the idea known. Let your supervisor, commander or your Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century representative know of your idea. If you have thoughts on how to make it a reality, share that as well. Talk to the people you think it will benefit or impact and work through a basic plan to enact change. The organization and all those involved can then come together and direct the change that comes with innovation.
Not all ideas or innovations are successful. Regardless of the outcome, these have value. Your effort may trigger the creative senses of others addressing a different problem or process. You can be an innovator in any organization or functional area. Just keep generating ideas.
A current example of an idea leading to innovation is pending change to desktop computing on Columbus AFB. The change is the result of individuals looking around at how other military and non-military organizations were overcoming shrinking budgets. Some organizations were reorganizing, some consolidating and some looked to technology. One concept that stood out was the idea of cheaper desktop devices with centralized processing power. The idea was not new outside of the wing, but was new inside the wing.
This idea showed great potential. When "laid on the table" for review, it not only showed projected savings, it showed the plan could help the wing mitigate the continuing loss of IT personnel. The parties involved also recognized an improvement in network security. With our shared knowledge, wing leadership with the Communications Squadron defined the plan for implementing a Thin Client desktop computing environment.
Innovation can take advantage of technology, but it is not dependent on technology. Innovation is dependent on your creativeness. Seek new information and awareness of the world we live in to keep those creative juices flowing. Your idea can positively impact more than your unit, base or service. Innovation occurs when that idea becomes reality and the organization embraces change.
I am still an IT professional and naturally focus a great deal on technology. That part of me believes that eventually technology will catch up to your last great idea or innovation. However, you will have moved on to your next great idea.