Sunday, May 20, 2012

CIO’s Next Practice: De-Learning, Re-Learning & Learning Agility

A programmable mind embraces mental agility, to practice “delearning” and “re-learning” all the time.

blue dragonflyTechnology becomes pervasive in modern enterprise today, CIO plays one of the significant business roles; on the other side, the rapidly change business climate also makes CIO feels like to live in the tropical jungle, facing many attacks, in the danger of getting dismissed as techies without business savvy by their executive peers, or getting lagged behind  if becoming too far removed from recent technology trends, some CIOs may also have victim mentality to be a second class executive without seat at big table.

How should CIO survive and thrive in such a dynamic environment? Besides practicing the three principles discussed earlier, the next practice for CIO could be to cultivate learning agility. Learning agility has been defined via one of Korn/Ferry’s white papers as the willingness and ability to learn and then apply those lessons to succeed in new situations. Leaders who are learning agile continuously seek new challenges, solicit direct feedback, self-reflect, and get jobs done resourcefully. They see unique patterns and make fresh connections that others overlook.

1. Mental Agility

--the ability to examine problems in unique and unusual ways. 

To embrace mental agility, CIOs need to become critical and creative thinker at the same time, to practice “delearning’ and “re-learning,” CIOs with diversified experiences such as cross-functional, cross-industrial and cross-cultural background may also help them connect dots to approach problems with fresh thinking and unique ways.

The bias of thinking CIOs as infrastructure/utility manager only or the high rate of IT project failure rate should make every CIO, young or old to shape the new box of thinking and mental agility, ponder further about  future of IT and CIO as a leadership role to make influences.

2. Self-Awareness/Reflection

--extent to which an individual knows his or her true strengths and weaknesses

Through self-reflection, CIO may understand self-best: are you a strategist or techie; are you analytic expert or synthetic thinker; are you visionary or solutionary., etc. at most of the circumstances, CIO may need to wear a couple of hats, take different actions at varies situations. CIO needs to be a big picture thinker, but also needs to master some details in which business can take unique advantage to compete for the long term. Such as, that CIOs are well aware of new market trends & technological advancements, and constantly be on the lookout for how these can be leveraged effectively to achieve improvements for the organization- cost efficiency,  end-user satisfaction/flexibility, security, and governance.

3. People Agility

-- skilled communicator who can work with diverse types of people

Communication is one of the critical factors to decide CIOs’ effectiveness, As they 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.

The bad communication syndrome includes such as: getting lost in business-IT translation or getting distracted in technical details, the wrong context & KPIs for a different audience, or lack of business focus., etc. Best communicator CIOs need to know how to present strategically at round table and how to make value debate with business customers; to drive IT staff’s progress via effective conversation of understanding IT project complexity, also have a touchy-feely talk with knowing end customers’ concerns.

4. Change Agility

-- The mind with learning agility likes to experiment and comfortable with change.

Today’s business leaders need to get a new set of skills such as leadership, critical thinking, creativity, ethics, global perspective, and cultural awareness. What other skills are demanded by twenty-first-century business realities? From a couple of academic and consulting surveys, “The key skills include innovating, dealing with situations that you have not dealt with before, possessing the confidence and the experience to be entrepreneurial. You have to be able to deal with other cultures and situations you’re not familiar with. So, all of these types of soft skills are going to be as important as the technical skills that traditionally thought sufficient.

By very nature of information technology, change is the only constant, the CIOs with learning agility can move out of their comfort zone, take risks, learn from mistakes, and create the environment for innovation and creativity, reward risks, invest in new revenue generating initiatives. They will be walking the talk- showing the team in a very personal manner that it is imperative to cultivate the culture of learning stay on top of technology advancements. It means the successful leaders continually learned, bent, and flexed as their work climate changed. In other words, they were learning agile.

5. Result Agility
     --delivers results in challenging first-time situations

Most of IT organizations today still stick to level two or three of maturity for business/IT alignment, muddled in the middle. Through practicing learning agility, CIOs need to learn both from their own experience and from success stories or failure case studies cross-disciplines  and apply those lessons to succeed in new situations, in order to improve IT project success rate and IT performance maturity level.

The IT management results may also need to be presented via balanced scoreboard to leverage business agility objectively, both judge the result from short-term gain and long-term growth perspective.

At the age of digitization, experiment on innovation, delivering a result at the first-time situation will be more frequent than ever, CIO with learning agility can continue adopting agile methodology and run IT more effectively. Learning agility is even more critical for the executives at larger enterprises such as Fortune 500, as they are the one anchoring big ship towards the right direction timely, make an influence on macroeconomic climate, exemplify the positive culture for our society.  


These are the things that helps quite goodly in growing and learning from things this is the way how its fine enough so yeah i guess keeping it this way can work, business agility is what that help with us at the end and we get to experience the things that lets us grow.

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