Last week I had the good fortune of speaking with Brian R. Lurie, the SVP and CIO of Teleflex Incorporated (NYSE: TFX), a leading global provider of specialty medical devices for a range of procedures in critical care and surgery.
I’ve known Brian for quite a while, and I was delighted to speak with him again. Brian is one of those rare corporate leaders who can blend traditional values with a real instinct for driving business results.
Prior to joining Teleflex, Brian served for more than a decade as Vice President of IT at Stryker Orthopaedics, the largest operating division of Stryker Corp. and a global leader in the design, development, manufacturing, marketing, and sales of reconstructive, trauma, and sports medicine orthopedic products and services.
In addition to his IT role, Brian was a founding member of Stryker’s Business Technology Council, a cross-divisional corporate group whose primary responsibility was making sure that Stryker was leveraging technology to grow the business and achieve the company’s strategic goals.
Brian’s experience serving on senior-level executive teams gives him a truly unique insight into the business challenges facing modern corporations in high velocity markets. When we spoke, I asked him about the CIO’s role as an innovation leader. Here’s a brief summary of what he told me:
As a driver of innovation, the CIO should be a leader and a role model. The CIO should talk about the types of innovation that are important to the organization. The CIO should also model the behaviors that support a culture of innovation. In other words, the CIO should walk the talk.
In addition to being a role model, the CIO needs to honor the spirit of innovation and make sure that innovation is rewarded. That’s an important piece of the process – you need to reward people for being innovative if you want them to innovate. That’s human nature.
You also need to remember that your people are watching you all the time. They watch you closely. They know when you’re serious about something and they know when you’re just going through the motions. If you’re not serious about supporting innovation, they’ll know it and their actions will reflect your true feelings.
On the other hand, if you show them that you genuinely appreciate innovation and that you are willing to make sure that innovation is rewarded, they will follow your example. That’s how a culture of innovation works, from my perspective.
Brian’s wisdom reflects and reinforces my own beliefs that successful IT organizations are built around innovation. Today, much of that innovation is focused on leveraging mobile, social and cloud technologies to drive business growth. The technologies themselves are less important than the innovations they enable.
Technologies come and go — great CIOs focus on creating value for the business through leadership and innovation.