This document is authorized for use only by Nishant Walavalkar in Fall 2017

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This document is authorized for use only by Nishant Walavalkar in Fall 2017 MIS500 - Innovating with IS taught by Vance Wilson, Worcester Polytechnic Institute from August 2017 to December 2017.
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82 MIT SLOAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW WINTER 2012 SLOANREVIEW.MIT.EDU I N F O R M AT I O N T E C H N O L O G Y whether the waves they generated were large or small. In this way, the machine frees capacity to ac- commodate the most promising among the newest. Innovating Mindfully — Rather Than Mindlessly What lessons follow for the executive who inevita- bly confronts these waves, one after the other, as his or her industry is pummeled by the promise of the new in IT and told that its future hangs in the bal- ance? The primary lesson lies in recognizing the differences among the components of a particular wave complex — discerning, for example, whether actual adoptions of a new IT measure up to all the talk about it, or whether adoptions seem to be plen- tiful enough, but successful implementations are suspiciously few, or whether anyone is really gain- ing value from their implementations. An executive can face each new IT innovation either mindlessly , by jumping on an innovation’s bandwagon without giving much thought to the unique circumstances of his or her company, or mindfully , taking those unique circumstances into careful account in de- ciding whether, when and how to join others in embracing a given IT innovation. (See “How to Make Sense of IT Innovation Waves,” p. 80, for a brief guide to initial questions managers should ask, along with mindful follow-up questions.) While it may seem obvious that executives should proceed mindfully rather than mindlessly, that is easier said than done. 18 The IT innovation wave ma- chine presents a powerful institutional force that can be difficult for an executive to resist. Most executives would like to be known as innovators. Within the company, many IT executives can build their profes- sional reputations by being IT leaders, pushing the company to embrace technological change rather than cling to its old ways. And when it becomes ap- parent that a particular IT innovation seems destined to sweep the field, few executives want to be in the position of being left behind, risking the competitive survival of their company. As a result, a considerable amount of mindless- ness in innovating with IT accompanies the workings of the wave machine. The mindful executive can achieve advantage for his or her business, not only by attending to the unique circumstances of his or her company, but by seeing the mindlessness of others for what it is. When one’s peers adopt a new IT, do their reasons for doing so make sense? Do they re- flect well-considered circumstances of their own, beyond the boilerplate benefits promised by vendors and consultants seeking a piece of the action? Asking such questions can be an important exercise. Where innovating with IT is concerned, fashion bubbles form with some regularity, and distinguishing mere hype from reality remains an especially challenging task. But those executives who manage their IT in-
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  • Fall '16
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  • Databases, MIT Sloan School of Management, Diffusion of innovations, Vance Wilson, innovation wave machine, N. Walavalkar

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