The CIO needs to be enterprise ‘polyglot,’ to master both business language and IT terminology, and beyond.
CIOs need to play multiple roles, to make positive influence as a Chief Influence Officer, to deliver the right information/insight as a Chief Intelligence Officer or to orchestrate the seamless integration as Chief Integration Officer. But first of all, the CIO needs to play as a Chief Interpretation Officer to convey the vision, to bridge the gap and to enforce the multi-layer, multi-dimensional communication. But what does it take to be an effective ‘Chief Interpretation Officer”?
Vision: IT is at the crossroad to either move up the maturity ladder, become a value generator & business partner, or continue to be considered as support function & cost center. It takes vision-based communication for CIOs to both convince and deliver the alternative view of IT being a profit enabler and value enhancer. The essential to the future of CIOs should have the capabilities to deliver the vision for their business, industry, and even bigger eco-system, to build up the solid global thought leadership position, and to take the organization to the next level. Technology is disruptive-More often than not, technology is the disruptive innovation to create both significant growth opportunity, or to bring potential risk in businesses large or small; information is the lifeblood for an enterprise to capture the foresight and insight upon customer demands and the next generation of products & services. Therefore, the CIO is at a unique position to convey the invaluable perspective to board or business partners, not about bits & bytes of IT, but about the picture of business and strategy of an organization; not only articulate the vision, but communicate it in various forms and forums, share with the various audience.
Languages: The CIO needs to be enterprise ‘polyglot,’ to master both business language and IT terminology, architect dialect and culture tones; regional viewpoint and global perspective; the gap can only be bridged by ensuring that the CIO is an excellent communicator, who is business aware and only finally, technically aware. It is vital to have a broad-based IT leadership beneath the CIO able to translate organizational strategy into technical requirements, enterprise architecture, and with the business ability to assess and demonstrate to management how technical advances can benefit an organization. Key is Language -the CIO needs to talk in commercial outcomes, not technical throughput; be seen to be leveraging current assets before seeking latest techie toys; have team leaders partner with and even embed themselves in business functions so they can ensure IT folk understanding the commercial end point of their work rather than it being an abstract set of code. In short, the CIO needs to talk like and actually deliver as a business executive who is also great communicators not only understand multiple ‘languages’ but also know the business context and always bring insight to the table.
Empathy: A good communication takes empathy; try to understand first before being understood, learn to value multiple perspectives and to appreciate that the perspectives of others could offer a new or improved model in order to make a fair judgment and right decision. the CIO is at the unique position to not only ensure he/she communicates with empathy but also streamline organization’s communication channel and delivery which can help simplify the message so that the diffusion rate is high. In many organizations, typically, one level of leadership communicates with the next level and so on and typically the message is somewhat diluted by the time it reaches the employee responsible for doing their job. Therefore, the CIO as a Chief Interpretation Officer will well align process, technology and talent and shape the culture of empathy within and beyond. Communicating irresponsibility or decision bottleneck is caused by underestimation upon how much communication is needed when it is needed and to whom it is needed. But they think they have communicated. Ask logic and empathic questions when identifying decision bottlenecks with logic steps:
1) What are the challenges in communicating individual employee responsibilities and ensuring that the responsibilities are understood?
2) How do you overcome these challenges?
3) How important is it to identify decision bottlenecks?
4) How do you identify them?
Abstraction: As a C-level position, either making communication, negotiation or presentation, CIOs should enforce communication to tailor audience via different styles, at a higher level, as many times abstraction enables agreement. You must communicate, communicate and then communicate and understand that not all of the stakeholders will move through the change curve at the same speed. Just because you have arrived at the other side does not mean everyone else has. Proposed approach from Abstraction to Elaboration…
1) Abstract your thoughts and words (by Omission, Composition, Generalization or Idealization) to reach a point of agreement.
2) When that point of agreement has been reached, you then have the basis, the rock, on which to elaborate.
3) Then you can Elaborate (by Inclusion, Decomposition, Specialization or Realization) until you reach a point of disagreement.
4) Then you can work together to understand why the disagreement exists while still being able to use the level of agreement, the rock, as a safety rope.
1a) Open your mind - listen (read) carefully, expecting to find some new insight
1b) Recognize that this is a long-term project - Look for the things you can agree with, you will have plenty of opportunities to educate everyone else, later.
Respect: For any level or type of communication, mutual respect is the right attitude. A good ‘interpreter’ is not only about translating the content of the conversation, but being cognizant of the tones and contextual intelligence, value multiple perspectives with respect to makes positive influence upon pulling a progressive conversation ahead. Respect does not require an arbiter - it requires a different mindset and a different behavior. If I am respectful of your contributions, it is to recognize the value that they offer, to genuinely attempt to adjust my own position or mental models to incorporate and reflect the additional value or insight you are offering. For leadership and team, good communication takes respect, and respect is two-way street.
RESPECT –Why team respects the leader:
RESPECT-How staff member gets respect from the leader
Read More about magic "I" in CIOs:
CIO as Chief Imagination Officer