Monday, July 31, 2017

CIOs as “Chief Initiative Officer”: How to Take Initiatives on Change, Innovation, and Digital Transformation

The CIO as “Chief Initiative Officer” has become necessary or even imperative to manage strategic alignment and orchestrate digital transformation.

The magic “I” in the CIO’s titles implies so many things: “Chief Information Officer,” “Chief Innovation Officer,” “Chief Improvement Officer,” “Chief Influence Officer,” "Chief Insight Officer," etc. In practice, the CIO role should transform from a reactive IT manager to a proactive digital leader; from a controller to a change agent Thus, the CIO as “Chief Initiative Officer” has become necessary or even imperative to manage strategic digital alignment and orchestration from concept to post-implementation of all initiatives from the C-level to the front lines, focus on changes and innovation. CIOs are also quite eager and enthusiastic to drive challenging transformation initiatives, to reinvent IT as the information hub and the business growth engine.

Change Initiatives: To reinvent IT from a change laggard to the change organization of the company, IT should ensure its strategy implementation allowing for digital speed, and responsiveness to be seen by the business as an enabler, not an overhead. The business-engaged CIO is the right type of digital leader to run a proactive IT and keep navigating during rough sea journey of large or small changes. Change management often goes hand-in-hand with strategy management. The CIO as “Chief Initiative Officer” can drive changes and implement the business strategy execution through constructive business - IT relationships, ensuring the maturity level of the IT organization matches the requirements of the business strategy. Business can no longer work on the basis of static exploitation internally or externally; as it has been pursued in the past. IT needs to work with other business functions more closely to build cross-functional teams, practice interdisciplinary management approach, create both internal and external beliefs around how the IT organization is a movement for business enablement and improvement, and build the expectation for the next step and commitment that will follow. From the leadership perspective, a big challenge is for the managers to change their own mindset, attitude, and behaviors to allow their teams to do the change that is needed. The success of any change management effort starts with leadership mindset, strategy, philosophy, and methodology.


Innovation Initiatives: Nowadays, often technologies are the disruptive forces behind the digital transformation. The role of the CIO should be able to envision not only where a company believes it is going, but how it will get there, and how it might be missing out on opportunities because of limitations on understanding of disruptive technology and information flow. Digital is the age of innovation, innovations often happen at the intersection of people and technology. CIOs as “Chief Initiative Officer” should take more initiatives on innovation management. To reinvent IT as an innovation hub, IT leaders need to be proactive and get really creative on how they architect and implement changes, to ensure IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving now. Innovative IT can only happen if IT is regarded as a strategic business partner and given the role in catalyzing innovation and driving the business. From IT management perspective, innovation is more science than art. IT has to take a holistic approach to handling the investigation of innovative business solutions. There are a lot of opportunities to clarify the role of IT in innovation. IT is uniquely positioned to observe processes across the enterprise. Sometimes, when one business area has a new product that can be used by another, IT leaders can connect the dots to come up with new innovative solutions. The science of innovation is to manage innovation life cycle and execute in a systematic manner that provides sustained competitive advantages. The paradigm shifts from IT being a reactive engine room culture to the culture of creativity and developing the capabilities to drive business growth and perpetual improvement and strengthen innovation.


Digital transformation initiatives: The digital enterprise is nothing more than a ‘switch’ in the network lattice of the digital ecosystem. IT is perhaps like the “ON” button to keep information flow. IT becomes the change driver and strategy enabler for the business to unleash its full potential. The aspect which matters is ensuring that the enterprise is connected to all the appropriate eco-system, lattice or otherwise, touch points. A digital transformation often needs to work cross boxes instead within the box; go broad to embrace the digital ecosystem and dig deeper to fine tune the underlying functions and processes, to manage a successful transformation journey. Thus, for IT leaders to take initiatives for catalyzing digital transformation, IT needs to build up the new set of core capabilities in transforming itself and business as a whole. IT transformation is a significant part of the digital transformation of the business. The CIO as “Chief Initiative Officer” should set digital principles and develop the next practices because a transformation needs strategic guidelines and policies. It takes greater transparency, trust, and collaboration leveraging repeatable process, expectation management and support from C-Level peers and buy-in from staff. It perhaps includes things like portfolio rationalization, digital road maps, operational reliability metrics/dashboard and human capital investment.


The CIO as “Chief Initiative Officer” shouldn’t just take actions without thinking systematically. The tough choices always need to be made - when should you reap the quick win, when shall you focus on long-term growth. The digital CIO today, as the senior business executive should have the ability to see the big picture to ensure the business as a whole is more optimal than the sum of pieces and respond to changes timely. Reinvent IT as the innovation hub and digital engine, so IT continues to reach a higher level of performance and maturity.

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