Chapter 5

Innovation Begins with Business Strategy

Kim Stevenson is vice president and CIO at Intel, a company whose name has become synonymous with innovation. I asked her recently if she believes that innovation is a top-down strategy or a bottom-up process. Here's a brief summary of her reply:

Strategy and process are not mutually exclusive. They coexist, and they both serve the same purpose: helping the company execute on its business plan. That's why I don't like it when people say that “IT is aligned with the business.” That's a weak expression. IT is part of the business. IT is everywhere in the company, helping the business execute its strategy and achieve its objectives. When innovation is part of the business strategy, IT is right there, helping the company execute.

I really appreciate Kim's frank response. From her perspective, the idea of separating strategy, execution, and IT does not make sense. IT is part of the company and it plays a crucial role in executing company strategy.

IT's role is not achieving alignment with the business—IT's role is helping the business achieve its objectives and accomplish its mission.

When innovation is required, IT supports that innovation. When pure execution is required, IT makes it happen. The relationship between IT and the business is both simple and powerful: Work together, get it done.

“The business creates the space for people to think creatively,” says Kim. “The Intel culture has a high tolerance for risk. That's one of the ...

Get Leading the Epic Revolution: How CIOs Drive Innovation and Create Value Across the Enterprise now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.