March 18, 2010
In my recent interviews with IT services providers on the topic of innovation, one of the key findings was the many different ways in which innovation can be categorized. Some companies view innovation as simply an extension of their traditional R&D capabilities, others view their innovation as a way to prove their thought leadership, still others view innovation largely as a strategic marketing imperative. Sometimes, it’s a combination of these factors.
One interview that stood out was with Lem Lasher, the Chief Innovation Officer (and Global Business Services President) at CSC, who described to me a deep and holistic approach to transforming CSC’s innovation capabilities. Three things that stood out at me about Lem’s approach:
- It’s driven by a deep understanding of innovation. Lem designed CSC’s innovation program based on a philosophical understanding of what innovation is and how structural elements contribute to a company’s innovation potential. Lem built his approach on the work of Clayton Christensen, Peter Senge, Joseph Schumpeter (among others) — but is focused on making the concepts of these academics/thought leaders real to CSC and its clients.
- It builds on a growing innovation network. Forrester has, for years, written about the importance of investing in innovation networks of inventors, academics, financiers, and connectors. CSC continues to build on its Leading Edge Forum community, its partnership with academics, and a strong innovation advisory board.
- The program starts with an internal transformation. CSC seems to have realized that it can’t bring innovation to its clients if employees have not made innovation central to their everyday work. Avoiding the marketing focus, CSC is focused first and foremost on unlocking the full value of CSC’s employees, and turning that into sustainable innovation capabilities that clients will recognize.
I’ve followed CSC for a number of years now, and have not previously viewed them as a major innovator – but that view is changing. I am seeing executives at CSC leading with more a forward- thinking approach to tech industry trends and disruptions, which I think is a good sign for the company’s ability to bring innovation to clients.
If you’re a sourcing professional with a relationship to CSC, you should talk to the company about what it can do to bolster your innovation potential. You may be surprised at the strength of CSC’s capabilities.