Monday, October 16, 2017

CIOs as "Chief Instrument Officer": How to Run Digital IT Effortlessly?

IT leadership needs to shift from "surviving to striving to thriving" mode, and IT also needs to shift from “controlling to change to innovate.”

IT organization is making a shift from transactional mode to transformational mode. It goes beyond the stage of IT-business alignment and moves up to the level of integration and engagement. Nowadays, a digital-ready IT organization is a threshold business competency and catalyzer of business changes. CIOs should also shift their leadership mentality from “struggling to keep the lights on” to “thriving to run digital IT effortlessly.”

Strategic stretch: Traditional IT organization is often setting back and waiting for the business request and function as a basic IT service provider. It is no longer sufficient for adapting to the rapid change and handle fierce competitions. To keep IT relevant, CIOs must make some strategic stretches to transform IT from an operator to a digital orchestrator. IT strategic planning needs to understand the business goals, understand the outcome of the goals, understand the business transformation roadmap, understand the functionality of the various departments, understand the kind of information required by varying decision makers across the company, understand the products or services of the business. History also reveals that IT needs to be understood and harnessed by all stakeholders, to fulfill its potential. It is also important to discover significant gaps in all of the above and fill them, in order to run digital IT. IT has to be configured in a way to understand the business and set the digital transformation framework to deliver the business and market need. IT management not only should have the strategic understanding of the business goals but also have the business acumen to implement them, have digital awareness and technological skill set to provide viable business solutions and have financial control to do it both effectively and efficiently.  

Optimizing complexity: Complexity has increased exponentially and has become the new reality of running a digital organization today. Complexity comes in due to business volatility, diversity, unpredictability, nonlinearity, rules and regulation, hybrid structure, and increased business flux working and impacting together.  Complexity is a sort of intelligence from a scientific angle. The nature of IT is complex, but the goal of IT organization is not to make things more complex, the fact is that IT has to become the business optimizer for managing complexity, and providing intuitive products or service to customers via hiding complexity. The complexity can be good or bad for businesses depending on your strategy and capability. It is the brain ability to preliminarily understand the extent of any problem or condition. As Einstein well put, that every solution to the problem should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. It means that a problem has an inherent, irreducible complexity; any attempt to simplify further than that will fail and any complexity added to it is harmful. Because IT oversees the underlying structure and functions of the business, that’s why it also plays a critical role in optimizing business complexity - minimize value-destroying complexity and efficiently control value-adding complexity in a cross-functional approach.

Innovation blossom: The intersection of IT and people is where innovation happens. To run a high-performance digital IT organization, innovation is not “nice to have,” but “must have” business competency. It is not just about IT innovation, it is important to look at innovation from the perspective of developing business-wide innovation capabilities. Running an innovative IT is truly about bringing the new perspective to grow businesses and delight customers. IT should alleviate themselves of the mundane, daily tasks that weigh them on, and do more with innovation. At the age of innovation, failure is seen as a fruit full of experience. Failure is part of innovation. Under innovative CIO leadership, the IT organizations with the healthy innovation appetites should enjoy the balanced innovation portfolio with well-mixed radical innovations and incremental innovations, “hard” and “soft” innovations. Innovation management should take a balancing act to have enough failure and build an environment that encourages learning from failure quickly and cheaply, without having failures that are too frequent or too expensive, to bring up innovation blossom.

IT leadership needs to shift from "surviving to striving to thriving" mode, and IT also needs to shift from “controlling to change to innovate.” CIOs need to broaden the IT outlook and envision the bigger picture of digital transformation, re-imagine the art of possible, achieve high performance, and maximize IT potential.


Post a Comment