Wednesday, February 19, 2014

IT as Digital Culture Catalyst

Change is the very nature of technology, and technology is more often than not, the driver of change!

Nowadays, IT organizations play more significant role in building business capability, agility, and maturity, and the predictors of the success of any organization are the quality of leadership and the strength of the culture, what changes shall CIOs make in the culture of IT team, and how can IT even become the business culture catalyst?

The culture of collaboration: To date, the whole consumerization of IT movement has largely focused on IT getting its arms around the trend and 'managing' it. Business love to see IT getting deeply immersed in the new apps, devices, and services and make internal customers more productive, collaborative and smart. Rather than wait for business to tell IT what they want, IT proactively works with business and partners upon the great new digital technologies which can change the business. That has the added benefit of steering business toward things IT recommends to use. IT has a great opportunity here to lead the business. What are the opportunities to change, how you shall interact with customers and each other? Think like customers and let the business know-how mobile, social and cloud can change the way to do business. In short, instead of focusing on controlling computerization, use it as an opportunity to change the paradigm of how we work and do business - and, more importantly, how business and IT work as an integral whole to lift up digital maturity.

The culture of Innovation- Building an innovative organization is first and foremost an exercise in cultural change. What most IT organizations call innovation is simply implementing the newest hot technology. True innovation is learning to leverage technology, process, structure, market opportunities, talent and speed to do things your competitors can’t do yet and achieve ultimate business value. Sometimes this involves choosing to not implement new technology. The real question is whether or not your current structure and culture will support the new way of doing things. Culture evolves, it's critical to first know what is good and should be retained in the current culture - you don't want to create upheaval and destroy the emotional stability of the organization in one ill-planned effort.  IT leaders should be surrounded by people that not only speak their minds about decisions that are made but also are able to substantiate their opinions with logic, reason, and tact. Not antagonistically, of course; a culture that promotes open, respect and innovation. Too often this is missing in most organizations

The Culture of Results Orientation- Too many IT organizations get bogged down in “process” at the expense of results. CIOs who can focus their organization on the business destination instead of the technology journey will quickly rise as a business leader. Results here are defined as business success. It doesn’t matter if IT deliver an application on time and budget if it doesn’t significantly improve the success of the overall organization. More IT organizations today are becoming the digital engine of an organization, The bright IT talent views things from an end user's perspective, and make it part of their culture, as IT consumerization makes such end-user perspective more important than ever.

The Culture of Learning: Change is the very nature of technology, and technology is more often than not, the driver of changes, it is also the tools to enable changes, IT workforce as a group of talent knowledge workers shall play change agent role in cultivating culture of learning, as learning agility is the willingness and ability to learn, de-learn and relearn, and then apply those lessons to succeed in new situations. People who are learning agile continuously seek new challenges, solicit direct feedback, self-reflect, and get jobs done resourcefully. Digital IT talent is visioneer, imagintects, curious explorers and change champions who can catalyze the culture of learning across the organizations and beyond. 

Risk tolerance- Risk aversion (usually disguised as “processes”) is the bane of many IT departments. Because IT is so pervasive and so visible in most organizations, mistakes are hard to hide!  This leads to an abundance of caution in order to avoid the possibility of pain later on. So the following question could be: What changes would you like to make in the culture of your IT MANAGEMENT team. It is really the key step to facilitating and enabling change in the lower ranks. And the biggest change overall would be to try slowly but surely infuse a greater sense of risk-taking, apart from the ultra-conservative culture that permeates most IT organizations. It has to be Ok with managers for staff to try new things, prudently, of course, and to fail.

IT is moving up from a back office to innovation frontier, information becomes the lifeblood of any digital organization today, IT not only needs to build strong culture internally but also it shall catalyze the digital culture across the organization, to enforce open communication, cross-functional collaboration and accelerate digital transformation


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