Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Are Visionary CIOs Often Outliers?

“Outlier” CIOs have better ability to connect innovation dots.

Modern CIOs have multiple personas, they have to wear different hats to fit the roles situationally in order to lead effectively. Technology is complex, business is complex, and people are complex. Due to increasing changes in the digital dynamic environment, The CIOs needs to be a dynamic person with vision, open, growth and complexity mindset- with high ability to envision the digital trends, manage innovations, communicating to suit situations so as to craft strategies and make things happen. Visionary CIOs are in demand, but who are they, and what can they do to drive the digital transformation of the business?

Visionary CIOs are often outliers: CIOs are expected to constantly propose new ideas and challenging the status quo. Sometimes organizations go stale and need the so-called "shot in the arm" of someone who thinks different – take customer’s view or connect dots of innovation. There is an “outlier,” "fresh blood" scenario where a CIO is brought in from outside the vertical industry to reinvigorate an IT organization. In either case, the CIO has to be flexible, adaptable, learning agile and able to adjust the lingo to suit the audience. Visionary CIOs are often outliers because they can connect the nonlinear dots interdisciplinarily. As IT leaders, CIOs need to have the technological vision and awareness; as more often than not, technology becomes the game changer and innovation driver for businesses. Setting a vision that isn't high enough doesn't challenge the organization to excel. But establishing a vision that is based on unrealistic expectations will either discount the value of even creating the vision or disenfranchise stakeholders. The vision should have a direction which sets clarity. A CIO’s technological vision should be attainable subject to current times and its ability to adapt. It's about changing times and help the business gain a competitive advantage for the long term.

“Outlier” CIOs have better ability to connect innovation dots: Innovation is another dimension to the mix: An opportunity for the CIO to add a lot of value in the C-Suite is helping C-Level leaders understand the possibilities of how new technologies can enhance the creation or improvement of products and services while balancing the technical and business risks, the investment needed, timing, etc. Outlier CIOs are the one who can step out of a conventional thinking box, or linear patterns. Therefore, they could see things further or deeper. An outlier leader is creatively disruptive, who dare to ask a deep “WHY” - to diagnose the root cause of problems but also ask the optimistic “Why NOT?" -The refusal to be bound by constraints and limitations and pursuit of possibilities rather than impossibilities seems to be a hallmark of great leadership achievements. A confident outlier CIO needs to keep asking, "why? why? why?" to manage incremental innovation in optimizing business processes, also, hunt for disruptive innovation with the structure in renovating business model and upcoming business expansion. CIOs who are only putting stress on "having the knowledge" not on "building the knowledge" might be in danger just to preserve the organization and thus create huge constraints for the possible innovation.

Outlier CIOs need to know how to play a bridge between what the business understands and what technology understands: They would then make sure the two worlds meet to ensure an optimal performing business. Outlier CIOs need also to be the structural thinker because the CIO’s structured thinking processes are the things they bring to the table for solving business problems. Engineering practices require systematic thinking and analytic capability. Thus, CIOs need to develop, demonstrate and increase their decision-making and problem-solving skills, thinking and problem-solving skills are always and continued needs for CIOs to master complexity. In addition, CIOs need to become far, far more business focused and business literate. CIOs have to provide this "innovation execution" service to your fellow business peers. The concentration should be on what these technologies can do for the businesses, not on the technology itself.

“Chief Innovation Officers,” is one of the most pertinent titles for CIOs to fit the digital leadership role. Companies are recognizing that IT is roughly coupled to the business strategy as an innovation engine, and it is a very good sign about how the companies will deliver value. Outlier CIOs have the interdisciplinary knowledge, and their imagination is not constrained by the knowledge, they have the growth mind, creativity, and technological vision, and thus, they can lead change confidently and effortlessly.


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