CIOs need to 'unlearn' before they can innovate

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Unlearning feels unnatural. As business executives, we're hardwired to store information so we can recall it at a moment's notice. However, shedding outmoded mind-sets can free you to create the breakthrough innovations that CEOs are demanding from CIOs today.

The first thing you may need to unlearn is what you think about innovation. Many IT departments equate innovation with improving internal operations and systems. Such enhancements are part of the story, but innovation that improves the balance sheet may require something more: pivoting to face the customer and embracing the uncertainty of testing products and services on external customers.

Forget about playing it safe. Companies that create inventions that draw a crowd anticipate what customers want and need before consumers know it themselves--and then deliver it before anyone else. You should dive into the dark to find the undiscovered space and emphasize what you don't know rather than what you do know. Yes, to innovate radically, you have to amplify ignorance.

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