Friday, August 11, 2017

Running IT as an Innovative Problem Solver and a Relentless Change Agent

Digital technologies provide new frontiers for work systems, and the information is the gold mine of the digital business.

IT is at an inflection point to speed up digital transformation, modern IT organizations need to be the explorer for stepping into the deep, deep digital normality with the abundance of information and the sea of changes. Forward-looking CIOs express a need to free up their staff from commodity activities to spend more time on strategic or innovative business initiatives. For IT to break the old cycle, and transform from the ‘weakest link," to the superglue of the business, it has to provide business stakeholders technological insight into how they bring success to the company as a whole instead of being a commodity overcoming the cost center reputation. Digital IT leaders today should practice paradoxical thinking to strike the right balance, drive changes, and solve business problems effectively.  

Solving “illogical problems” in logical ways: Due to the complexity of contemporary organizations today, many business problems are also complicated or even seems “illogical” at the first sight, they like the hairball tangled with the bunch of tough issues. But still, if there are such illogical problems,” the resolution of an illogical problem requires a logical process, but the source of the information that permits the logical conclusion might function in an abstract manner. In practice, the comprehensive solution to a business problem requires both cross-domain knowledge and divergent thought process, so it can wander and be influenced by disparate associations brought up during the exploring and problem-solving scenario. It takes both logic and creativity for becoming the superior problem-solver for complex problems. IT has potential to become the creative business solver for their company, because IT is at the unique position to oversee the underlying business processes and functions, IT also has the advantage of connecting those cross-functional dots, because the original gem of a creative idea is often, if not always arrives at through the interaction of ideas from different domains of thoughts and experiences. And the engineering side of IT enables it to take a logical path to implement ideas as well as to figure out solutions to most types of problems.

Fixing issues with speed is not equal to the quick fix or the band-aid approach: Traditional IT organizations often have “We always do things like that” mentality, it takes the “band-aid” approach to fix the symptoms, but it often has quite a lot side-effect. IT spend too many resources and time to take care of immediate problems or make the quick fix with ignorance of digging into the root cause of real problems. The side effect is that in many cases the quick-fix solutions actually move the company backward. IT doesn’t do enough on strategic initiatives and improve the overall organizational maturity. IT perhaps just takes “shortcut” with band-aid solutions, instead of having transformational mindsets. If CIOs only look at the quick-fix options that are merely window dressing to the underlying issues, it makes them and their department looks good on the surface but does not help the corporation move forward. CIOs could be runners, but not change agents. If the CIO doesn’t have a seat at the big table to create the strategy or functional executives hold silo thinking; or if leadership teams do not collaborate as a whole, the business cannot be lifted up to the next level of the growth cycle. It takes commitment and discipline to stay focused on the real priorities of the business instead of being distracted by what seems to be more urgent on any given day. Resolution of conflicts between business and IT and expectation management is also utmost important, for building your reputation of caring about what is delivered by IT and building a reputation for reliability.

Running a changeable IT without suffering change fatigue: Organizations can make major leaps forward in crafting change capability by involving the entire organization in major change efforts that support key business strategies to drive performance improvement. Change Management is all about balancing the key business success elements impacting changes such as people, strategies, processes, procedures, and IT. IT is an integrator to weave all important change elements seamlessly and make people change, process change, and technology change sustainable. IT should be orchestrated as the change agent of the entire company. To overcome change fatigue, keep in mind, there is no change for its own sake, there's always a clear business purpose behind it, and people are the core of changes. Being clear on the strategic imperative to change is important (alongside the 'what's in it for me), to ensure there is the burning platform or a burning ambition or both, that compels your business to become much faster, better, cost-effective and mature at delivering changes. Identify change agents and ensure each role is accountable for bringing the business results and unlock business performance.

While technology provides new frontiers for work systems, and the information is the gold mine of the digital business. The challenge is having a harmonized vision about overall IT management philosophy, capabilities, structure, and maturities in a digital organization, and develop the best and next practices in running IT as the effective business problem-solver and relentless change agent, with ultimate goals to bring high-performing business result and improve organizational maturity.


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