Friday, February 24, 2012

Five Styles of Conversation Modern CIO need Master For

CIOs need to leverage different conversation styles to construct a collaborative vision and deliver high-performance IT result. 

Contemporary CIOs not only need wear many colors of hats or try different pairs of shoes but also they may need to master all styles of conversations to develop situational wisdom and influential competency, to rebuild IT’s reputation as a value creator and innovation hub.

1. Strategy Presentations at Round Table

First, as technology becomes increasingly strategic to business and driver for business growth, C-level executives are coming to grips with the reality that IT and the art of possible should close the loop on strategy development, CIOs need to become more visible and accountable via presenting following fact-based strategic issues persuasively.

  • Business Growth: How do CIOs envision business growth or potential disruptive innovation via the power of the latest technology?
  • Cost Optimization: How does modern technology help to shape efficient business processes and improve cost structure and enable innovation? CIOs need to develop financial metrics that will help to clearly communicate IT performance with C-level executives in plain business language.
  • Talent Master: How does digital technology such as social, mobile or talent analytics empower employees to reimagine work & re-tool working environment with a new attitude, increase staff satisfaction and improve productivity.
  • GRC Management: How does IT orchestrate the holistic governance, risk control and compliance framework with cohesive strategy & culture to shape a risk intelligence enterprise.

2. Value Debates with Business Customers

Transforming IT talk from a cost center to value creator is both the art and science, the shifted focus conversations help to improve IT reputation as a business strategic partner and manage more pertinent KPIs scoreboard to present results.

IT provides legitimate value include:
* Business risk reduction
* Legal compliance
* Customer experience
* Employee engagement
*Potential revenue stream
* Cost Structure optimization

Value Conversation Sample: Cost discussion: Our total IT software maintenance costs are $300,000, up only $10,000 from last year. Value discussion: The new document/printing management system that was implemented last year reduced the costs of paper and document storage by 25% for annual savings of $100,000. The annual software maintenance costs to support this application are just a tenth of that, at $10,000 per year.
Trust Relationship Tipping Point: IT needs to forge a mature adult relationship with business users, since today’s multi-generational knowledge workforce, from baby boomer to millennial, either technology immigrant or digital natives, overall are more savvy about the wide range of technology than IT manager give credit for, IT needs to transform the reputation from a “controller” to an enabler. IT also needs to overcome the application sprawling challenge facing at the age of cloud, transform “shallow IT” into deputized IT.

3. Execution Conversation with IT Team

 The laser focused strategy presentation at the round table and value debate with business partners may also help CIOs create an effective IT roadmap with value-driven priority, to have inspiring execution conversation with IT team:

  • Operation Excellence: Keep business running smoothly to achieve operational excellence is still the bottom line for IT, the journey may also include the goal to make IT delivery faster, cheaper and better via the new technology such as the cloud.          
  • PPM to Shape Business Strategy: Every IT project is a business project, intend to solve business problems and implement business strategy, CIOs need to educate IT team to equip the new business thinking, pondering the root cause of project failures, take the effective PM methodology such as Agile, and enforce governance via well-defined metrics.             
  • IT Integration to Orchestration: The information and data keep growing and flowing at the modern organization, IT plays an unprecedented role in determining business success, IT integration to orchestration scenario will gap the business silos, break down the organizational boundary, and shorten the cycle to collect right information for streamlining decision-making and empower innovation agenda.

4. Touchy-Feely Chat with End Customers

CIOs also need to take end customers’ shoes on or experiment at the frontline to walk through customers experience or collect customers’ feedback: 
  • Customers’ Pain Point: For all the customer-centric industries and businesses today, how to delight customer is strategic imperative, and CIOs & team may just need some touchy-feely chat with the end customers or walk through customers’ experience, to bring up outside-in point of view, and soothe customers’ pain point via the magic bullet of modern technology or staff’s innovative services.
  • Customers’ TouchPoint: So-Lo-Mo: social, location, mobile, and a smart device such as RFID may also help provide customers the freedom of choice at each touch point, to make customers experience as seamless & impressive as possible

 5. Relentless Negotiation with Vendors        

Vendor Relationship Management is another strategic focus for CIOs today, it’s also about business sourcing, integration, and innovation strategy.  How to make a partner relationship a win-win situation, how to recognize the mixed bag of vendors who can make the difference, take extra miles, and present both best-tailored solutions with a great attitude?
  • Vendor innovation category: Legendary vendors: like senior citizens, the legendary vendors may survive and thrive more than sixty-five years, compared to fifteen years--the average lifespan of today’s Fortune 500 companies, these companies deserve some respect, they present not just the wisdom from age, but also the leadership value proposition with full portfolio of solutions, they are usually accountable & influential, the question for them could be: Are their services cost-effective compared to the niche players’, or are their solutions agile enough to adapt to the rapid changes today?
  • Pioneers or niche vendors: Those are the vendors may sit in visionary or challenger position at Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, or the vendors who always go extra miles, with great success stories, passionate and capable.  To encourage or support these pioneers or niche players may help to sow the innovation seeds and create a win-win scenario.  The questions for them might be: What’s the competitive advantage to compare them with giant vendors?  reliabilities, the strength/weakness., etc.    
  • SLA/Contract Negotiation: SLA/Contract negotiation could be even more complex at the age of cloud, the ratio of performance/cost, the business goals/purpose,  the benchmark & metrics, the description of service, duration, termination or legal issues, all those trick or treat, crunchy data & hidden cost., etc.,   therefore,  remediation, revision, and renegotiation should be always options.
It is critical that communication need be directly related to your audience situation, how it affects them, CIOs also need to listen before talk, learning before doing, hopefully, through mastering the five styles of conversation, CIOs can walk the talk, construct the collaborative vision and deliver high-performance IT result. 


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