In my post End of the IT revolution - organisational rigidity I pointed to some of the reasons why modern organisations are losing the ability to take advantage of the new technology. My bottom line was:
The net effect in many organisations I know is that the new technology, and especially the internet, becomes something to be controlled rather than managed.
In a comment on the post Bruno Fiorentini said in part:
In the real modern organizations, the network should not be so rigid and would have appropriate areas where employees and customers could share and expose ideas....The collaborative and open process provided by the internet environment is the true spirit that should reign in the networks. The companies that understand that and do not fear to be open will really benefit from this concept...
Bruno is right. But how to make it happen? I think that four things are key.
I think that the first key step here is to free up things behind the firewall. If you give greater freedom to experiment here, then you can test things in a controlled environment.
The second key step is to trial things externally on a pilot basis. If you want to do new things with customers, then test them. But do keep things as simple as possible.
The third key is to create a budget that will support experimentation. This need not be large. The key thing is that it should be accessible without heavily formalised control procedures.
The final key is to turn your IT area from a control to a facilitation, support function.
Four little steps. They just require a change in approach.