Editor’s note: Margaret Heffernan, CEO of five companies and a prize-winning author of five books, will deliver the closing keynote address at ISACA’s EuroCACS 2017 conference, which will take place 29-31 May in Munich, Germany. Her address will be titled “Can Technology Solve Everything?” Heffernan visited with ISACA Now about her career and her philosophy on innovation. The following is an edited transcript:
ISACA Now: What are some common pitfalls that cause organisations to fall short in leveraging their employees’ innovative potential?
Many organisations work hard to organise innovation, put rules and requirements around it and a lot of measurement. That, I think, is a mistake. While it is clear that some constraints can prompt a great deal of creative thinking, defining innovation before it gets started tends to constrain it and to constrain motivation and discursive thinking. If you try to organise innovation the same way that you organise manufacturing of a defined product, you are bound to fail. Exploration of something new is an utterly different process from repeating something already well defined.
ISACA Now: You have extensive experience as a CEO. How have you sought to capitalize on technology innovations to strengthen your organisations?
I’ve always used tech to strengthen communications, but that is the beginning, really, not the end.
ISACA Now: You have a wide range of experience in the business, media and lobbying worlds. What have you found to be most rewarding from a professional standpoint, and why?
The best part of everything I’ve done has been giving challenging work to eager people who routinely exceed my expectations. I have always operated on the assumption that most people have more imagination, ability and capacity than most organisations ever uncover — and I’ve rarely been disappointed.