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Does your organization have a coherent innovation strategy? In this CIO Minute video, David Neitz, CIO at CDM Smith Inc. and winner of the 2016 MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award, lays out the three types of innovation his organization pursues and how each helps propel this Boston engineering and construction firm forward.
How do you think about innovation at CDM Smith?
David Neitz: We look at innovation from three spectrums. We look at incremental innovation, which is, 'What can I do to make what I'm doing today better?' Sustaining innovation, which says, 'OK, we're going to keep kind of doing the same thing we've been doing, but better than just incrementally better.' And then disruptive [innovation] to say, 'Look, it's going to be a totally different way of doing it.' We don't know if it's going to work, but we know that we have to take these bets. We have to fail forward, fail smart, and the company is really embracing that concept.
Of the three types of innovation, disruptive innovation -- and its potential for failure -- seems like a hard sell in your business.
We're an engineering company that was founded by an MIT professor back in 1947. And you think about the discipline of an engineer is, things should never fail. This building that we're in should never fail. Which, thank goodness, it doesn't. A bridge shouldn't fail.
But it's OK to fail when you're talking about technology. And as long as you learn from it, and you fail forward, you take those iterative learnings. And that's what we did.