Thursday, September 29, 2016

"CIO Master" Book Tuning #107: Three “Soft” IT Management Disciplines to Drive Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is “pushed” by both visible forces and invisible forces, hard forces and soft forces from multiple directions.

Often, IT is perceived by the business as a big cold, isolated function with monolithic hard boxes and tangled wires, surrounding with IT staff stereotyped as geeks who speak the different language and lack of business acumen to ask insight questions. With emergent digital technologies and increasing paces of changes, forward-looking IT organizations are reaching the inflection point for digital transformation, and shift from “T-driven” monolithic type to “I” oriented mosaic style. To soften the"hard image," what are the “soft” IT management disciplines to drive digital transformation?

“Software is eating the world”: Digital IT is running as a software startup, to make continuous delivery, advocate customer-centricity, and help the business improve the top line business growth. Even software management itself continually evolve and improve via following the agile philosophy and a set of principles. Machines, tools, and environments that IT professionals use will become more powerful, easy-to-use and knowledge-base. Being customer centric is key, to scale up, and to make the culture change stick, make continuous delivery via following the three “I”s: Interaction, Iteration, and Improvement. Applications will become more interrelated as we move to a world of systems-of-systems where constraints govern how and what we develop. Software Engineering is no longer just an isolated discipline only a few geeks work on it, but a common practice everyone has the chance to play around it, it has permeated into every business in every location, and it underpins the business capability and brand of every digital organization today.

Change Management (as a soft touch) goes hand-in-hand with strategy management: IT has to address enterprise behaviors and move to an outcome focused, outside-in organization; leaders act as coaches and applying new technology and innovative ideas to the way of working as soon as they stay ahead of their competitors, and have fun doing it. Change Management is considered as a “soft” discipline because there is no hard formula to manage changes and change itself changes. Therefore, don't just rush up to follow the best practice for Change Management in your industry, but invest enough time to discover the root cause of issues. A change agent IT should get deeper understanding the issues facing both internal customers and end customers as well. Change is not for its own sake, it is IT responsibility to identify opportunity for business transformation wherever analysis and assessment indicate the potential benefits of transformation efforts, to oversee the key business process and influence organizational culture, to enable and catalyze business transformation. Digital CIOs should be capable of evolving leadership skills to not only match the pace with changes in technology and the pace at which the organization can effectively manage these changes, but also proactively drive changes in business transformation.

Build people advantage in IT: As businesses become so dynamic, how to develop and manage their people is often the most challenging soft discipline. People need to be developed and grown so the positive energy can flow and collective human capabilities can really be transformed into business strength and competitive advantage. The knowledge life cycle is shortened significantly due to the rapid change in IT industry, more and more businesses are looking for growth mindset, not the fixed brain; hunting for modular problem-solving capabilities, not just linear skills. People Management becomes a well-mixed “hard + soft” holistic discipline which integrates talent management, performance management, and culture management in order to build a culture of learning and innovation and build optimal people advantage.

Digital transformation is “pushed” by both visible forces and invisible forces, hard forces and soft forces from multiple directions. The effective IT management can reinvent IT as an energetic business partner to delight customers and lead digital transformation seamlessly.


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