Saturday, March 18, 2017

CIOs as "Chief Inspiration Officer": Make a Leap of IT Digital Transformation via Healthy Debating

Having healthy debating enforces critical thinking principles - increased perspective, less prejudgement and looking at things from the different angles.

Due to the exponential growth of information and disruptive nature of digital technologies, IT is at the crossroad: Should IT continue to be run as an “isolated function,” just keep the lights on, and gradually become irrelevant? Or should IT reinvent itself to become the change agent of the business? It is the time to reimagine IT via inspiring critical and creative thinking and spurring healthy debating. Because debating is a type of critical thinking activity. Critical thinking is a basic form of organized thought specifically used to frame the right questions, identify the real problems, and discover better ways to do things.

The healthy debates, in fact, help the business and IT do more reflection via pondering deeper and understand things from multidimensional angles: From IT management and innovation perspective, there’re quite a few classic IT debates last decades-long:  Does IT still matter? What will happen to the CIO role? What is the real business value of IT?' Business vs IT': Where do you stand for? Is IT/business siloing a chronic problem in many organizations? When should IT lead, when should IT follow? Etc. The more salient points of the "ongoing debates," are to brainstorm the better way to do things and run a high mature digital IT organization. Whether it is a debate, argument, interview, investigation or chess game, critical thinking will apply. The debate, when used properly, can be a way to explore critical thinking from a non-biased perspective, re-examine the root causes of IT ineffectiveness, reimagine the digital potential of IT, and reinvent IT as a digital business engine.

Critical Thinking plus healthy debating streamline IT leadership journey from good to great, from “command and control” to innovativeness: Critical thinking is asking questions and debating answers from all perspectives. The CIO is a digital business leader, a strategic decision-maker, not just a tactical IT management. A good CIO would keep everyone involved and foster an environment of creative thinking and critical thinking, and spur healthy debates for innovation. The CIO needs to be able to recognize areas of deficiencies and inefficiencies, then ask the open questions such as, “What if?” or 'How can we...?" to throw the challenges for IT teams to solve them creatively. Great CIOs are multi-dimensional thinkers and versatile digital leaders. It's about having the right blend of leadership skills, business knowledge, and technical knowledge. IT leaders must show that they are interested in both the bottom line efficiency and the top line business growth. Technology is the means, not an end in and of itself. Business functions are at odds with IT when they feel that IT isn't solving problems. Great IT leadership can run IT from an outside-in business and customer perspective and improve the overall organizational maturity.

The debating is a critical thinking activity which helps to build the culture of openness: Albert Einstein’s wisely pointed out: “We can’t solve the problem with the same thinking we used when we created them.” The art of debating is much more about the open communication, brainstorming, and understanding things via different angles. We all desire to seek and participate conversations. The effective debating is tough and direct, needs to practice critical thinking, logic and the reasoning. In order to win the debate, you would need to deepen your understanding of the subjects, and you would need to plan strategies and tactics to win the debate which would require applied critical thinking in order to discover and execute things effectively. It does help to build the culture of openness and innovation.

Many think we are still living in the era which is information-rich and insight poor. The real critical thinking and healthy debate and argument are missing from businesses and society as a whole. In reality, we all bring our own biases and judgment to arguments. Having a debate where people are forced to uphold a view or belief that isn't necessarily their own, enforces critical thinking principles - increased perspective, less prejudgement and looking at another belief from a little less emotional perspective. At today’s digital dynamic with “VUCA” characteristics, either running IT, business or the society as a whole, it is the time to spur creativity and make a leap of digital maturity via healthy debating.


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