Saturday, January 6, 2018

The New Book “12 CIO Personas” Chapter IV Introduction: The CIO as “Chief Improvement Officer”

“Continual improvement” is the IT mantra in the digital era.


IT continues to reach a higher level of maturity, from alignment to integration, engagement, and optimization. Making continuous improvement is the way how IT can improve itself, the business, the interrelation between IT and business, to get digital ready.

Build a culture of continual improvement: Change is inevitable, it will come by itself. Improvement is the reward for being willing to change. IT leaders should make an objective assessment of the IT culture. Does IT organization present “command and control” type of management culture? Is IT more process-driven or people-centric? Can IT leaders recognize their innovators and empower their change agents? Is IT team diverse enough to come out creative ideas? Does IT live in their own silos? Etc. Building a culture of continuous improvement is particularly important for IT due to the exponential growth of information, disruptive nature of technology and shortened knowledge life cycle. Improvement is the reward for being willing to change. Improvement can only be there if people accept change, and make the most out of it. Developing a culture of continuous improvement encourages IT staff to get out of the comfort zone, figure out alternative ways to do things, enforce communication and foster innovation.

Prioritize IT for “making the continuous improvement”: 
Due to fierce competitions and rapid changes, making a continuous improvement is critical for surviving and thriving of digital businesses today. The challenge for IT leaders to run high performance IT is to set the right priority, leverage the limited budget and resource, to manage change and improvement continuum. CIOs need to have information technology insight and foresight into potential opportunities for retooling businesses, reimagining growth possibilities and managing IT effectively. There are too many things on the daily agenda of IT, keep the lights on, take orders from customers. Many IT leaders cite mistakes in managing the demand for IT services or support, either by not setting the right priorities well with the business units or just taking on too much and crushing their team. Priority needs to be clear, approved, and bonused for sharing the plan. Ensure people committed and incentivized to the plan or agree on an exit. CIOs can only set the right priority choice and speed up to drive changes if they have the information available to them and proactively understand businesses and operate IT at the full speed without too many distractions.

Never stop learning and communicating: To keep IT relevant, IT leaders must become “Chief Improvement Officer,” to keep communicating with the business about IT value proposition, to make leadership influence at the scope of the entire business or even industry. IT needs to be the business solutionary to solve both old and emergent business problems, also become the change agent for driving business transformation proactively. IT leaders and staff should never stop learning and overcome “We always do things like that” mentality. They should make an objective assessment of IT maturity, as well as the overall business maturity, to keep improving IT performance and exceed business expectations.

Modern CIOs are “Chief Improvement Officer.” It is important to set up a prioritization process to run a healthy IT management portfolio, simplify operations, and improve the top line of the business growth. It’s also important to develop a culture of continuous improvement, encourage IT staff to get out of the comfort zone, figure out alternative ways to do things, enforce communication and foster innovation.

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