Starting off a series of CIO interviews focusing on innovation, I chatted with Lars Rabbe of Yahoo. Rabbe joined Yahoo as its CIO June 2003, and is responsible for the overall strategic direction and execution of Yahoo!'s global information technology infrastructure. Prior to joining the company,including internal applications such as billing and advertising systems, as well as internal and external infrastructure and information security. Rabbe previously was senior vice president and CIO of Redback Networks and also working as an IT executive as Lucent Technologies and NeXT.
Over the last decade, most CIOs have been on the defensive--the overriding concern was around cost cutting and consolidation rather than investing in innovative ways to create and deliver products and services. Now innovation is once again on the front burner. For Rabbe, innovation is rooted in the ability to make people do great things. "You want to be able to create an environment that allows people to innovate and allows people to break out and to do things that are not necessarily part of the day to day work," he said. "Make it possible for them to go away, think great thoughts, do great things and actually bring these things to market without putting too many constraints around it and without actually confining them in terms of having to use certain things or having to work with certain other products and so on."
Rabbe also discusses innovation in the context of Yahoo's products and infrastructure, such as data centers, social networking, organization structure and in fostering a culture of innovation. He cautions that innovation can be inhibited by too many standards and constraints. You can watch the video interview here.