Tuesday, August 22, 2017

CIOs as Digital Masters: How to “Right the Wrongs” in Digital Paradigm Shift

There is always something will go wrong sooner or later, due to the complexity and uncertainty of today’s business environment, the point is how digital leaders are able to “right the wrong” timely.

IT plays a significant role in the digital transformation of the business because information is the lifeblood of the digital organization and technologies are the disruptive force of digital innovation. The IT department provides guidance, direction, and business solutions in the application and adoption of information technology solutions in enablement of business objectives and catalyzing business growth! CIOs as IT leaders need to be able to recognize the struggles of the company by understanding the business beyond IT. The digital journey is perhaps not always going so smoothly, there are bumps and curves, roadblocks and pitfalls on the way. CIOs as digital masters: Can you predict what could go wrong, and how to “right the wrongs” in the digital paradigm shift?

The wrong direction: Digital transformation requires first shifting the leadership mindset and perceive what the future needs to look like, the wrong direction will no doubt lead to the wrong destination. Especially at today’s “VUCA” digital characteristics, digital leaders must have a clear vision which begins with an end in mind, to navigate their organization toward the uncharted water and blurred digital territories. If vision is tunnel-like or short-sighted, the business could easily get lost in the long journey of digital transformation. While setting a vision that isn’t high enough doesn’t challenge the organization to excel, also, establishing a vision that is based on unrealistic expectation will also mislead employees or disenfranchise stakeholders. IT is taking charge of information management system of the business, IT can help the business abstract insight from information to make more effective decisions and navigate through the right directions. More often than not, organizations have to adjust their directions accordingly in order to adapt to frequent changes. To put briefly, the vision should be attainable and shouldn’t be a fixed target. It should be stable enough to make it worthwhile to make a concerted effort to attain it and dynamic enough to be able to react to any change, business direction or context. This is particularly important because business models and technologies are changing very rapidly nowadays.

The wrong focus: Traditional IT organizations focus on “Keeping the lights on,” which is absolutely important, but it’s not sufficient. IT is, and will continue to be, a critical department. The real issue is whether IT is seen as a necessary expense - a provider of devices and software, or a true strategic business enabler and a game changer. When IT only focuses on inside-out operation driven issues to keep the wheel spinning, it perhaps does not focus on outside in - the big picture of the business. IT leaders/managers need to focus on People, Process, and Technology in the proper order. People-centric IT leaders should focus on delighting customers and engaging employee because people are both the purpose of doing the business and a success factor to run the business. Business-focused IT leaders need to focus on advocating their business as a whole, not just their IT division. IT needs to sell their services and solutions by determining their wants/needs and tailoring a presentation to convince business users of the solution; know how to implement the organizational changes needed, at least at some level, cascading down. When IT organization only focuses on the transactional side of the business, it will cause digital ineffectiveness and lack of differentiated business competency for the long term.

The wrong assumptions: Digital is dynamic and uncertain, when trying to determine the macro environment and how the factors influence business strategy/plan one way or another, it is difficult to move away entirely from assumptions. Nothing is certain with the rapid digital flow, you have to make assumptions or “forecast.” You have to make them, but you will never have complete information, and if you try to only act on what you know by the fact you are more likely to go wrong. “Assumptions" should be thought of as qualified projections rather than the best guess. In a business scope, there are some of the important bits and bytes of information needed when evaluating a new market, new technology or any business growth opportunity. Therefore, IT becomes more critical to explore such an “art of impossible.” When assumption is wrong, the conclusion will also go wrong. It is important to leverage Systems Thinking which helps to make more logical “assumptions,” discover the interconnectivity and interdependence. Therefore, you need to be looking for something “hidden,” which is not always obvious. In order to make better assumptions or “forecast,” look at the business from an integral perspective rather attempting to understand it from a sum of the parts, understand how the parts fit as in subsystem. Business can be only done on facts and that too objectively assessed while business vision requires imagination power, but the same needs to be validated at repeated intervals. The good assumptions are based on multidimensional thinking and knowledge-based perception and forecasting.

The wrong ends: Either from problem-solving or digital transformation perspective, it is important to “begin with the end in mind.” One of the pitfalls for transformation, either for improvement or innovation is sometimes getting the 'right answer' to the 'wrong question. A solution is nothing if the problem is not perceived. Therefore, creating the awareness of the problem is the first step to making a solution to be understood and accepted.We all know doing the wrong things well neither improves business effectiveness nor unleashes the business potential. Digital transformation starts with the realization that where you currently no longer can deliver the business objective and vision of success for your company and your shareholders. It is important to determine what the future needs to look like and what transformation must look like. The wrong end can lead catastrophic business setback or stagnation. That’s why it is more important to frame the right question before answering them. One of the pitfalls for transformation, either for improvement or innovation is sometimes getting the 'right answer' to the 'wrong question.'

The wrong means or putting the wrong people in the position to solve the problems: When framing the right problems correctly, it is also important to solving them in an efficient way by the right people with the right skillset. The digital IT playbook isn't for the faint of heart. The wrong means or putting the wrong people in the position to solve the problem will cause delays or lead inefficiency. CIOs need to rise above the status quo, develop the right methodologies and take on a new set of activities that have them involved in the strategy development process from the get-go.

There is always something will go wrong sooner or later, due to the complexity and uncertainty of today’s business environment, the point is how digital leaders are able to “right the wrong” timely, adjust the direction of the business ship accordingly. It is important to realize that “We can't stay the same,” the realization only comes when the problem is perceived. One concept always is present in any process designed to successfully produce positive change and drive digital transformation steadfastly.


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