Wednesday, October 4, 2017

CIOs as “Chief Innovation Officer”: How to Lead Boldly with Unconventional Wisdom?

Innovative CIOs with bold leadership styles are the key to re-imagine IT to achieve the art of possible.

Within abundant information and emergent digital technologies, IT is a key component of the innovative business mindset to reimagine “what is possible,” to unleash business potentials and transform the company to high performance and highly innovative business. CIOs as “Chief Innovation Officer”: How can you inspire and empower your employees and mentor them unconventional wisdom to unlock creativity and harness innovation?

Learn to creatively disrupt: The only constant in business or life nowadays is "change," with increasing speed. How we as individuals and businesses adapt to changes defines how successful we will ultimately become. It is often true that unless there is a disruption, people very rarely move out of their comfort zones. Growth is not possible unless people are willing to move out of their comfort zone. Innovators present creatively disruptive traits, disrupt old ways, and inspire better ways to do things. Creative disruption acts as a catalyst for business growth and innovation. Forward-look IT organizations are “digital disruptor” of their company because information technology is the disruptive force behind digital innovation. Either as a digital disruptor or being disrupted, how successful organizations can handle digital disruptions depends on how fast and capable they can innovate and adapt to the ever-changing business environment. IT innovation capability directly impacts how it helps the business gain competitive advantage and capture the business trend to compete for the future. However, in reality, it seems creativity is not encouraged, or even penalized in most traditional companies. If CIOs don’t soon realize that stifling the creative mind of IT will set back business, their IT organizations would continue to be perceived as a cost center. Thus, innovative IT leaders should understand being innovative is a state of mind, have their staff learn how to creatively disrupt, to keep ideas flow, to create new orders from chaos, and to reward creativity.

Learn to disobey with progressive intention: Traditional IT organizations usually have command-control management style, with “we always do things like that” mentality and have the “order-taker” reputation. To reinvent IT as the innovation engine of the business, IT leaders have to lead boldly with unconventional wisdom. Keep in mind; There's no innovation without disobedience (French Proverb). Coach your employees to learn how to disobey for good reasons. CIOs as Chief Innovation Officers are never about managing the status quo. To be truly creative means challenging norms beliefs or best practice. The profile of innovator that is most common and necessary is the talented people with an innate curiosity to improve, take the risk of experimenting new ways to do things, discover the unique path perhaps others never take before, being perceived as disobedient in a positive sense with an intention to make progress. It’s all about the desire to make things better and advance. Because innovation requires thinking outside the conventional box, practice creative thinking, and critical thinking, adding value differently from the status quo, changing the frame of reference to create previously undiscovered solutions. Innovators are progress-driven and focus on problem-solving. Thus, innovative IT leaders need to encourage creative disobedience and constructive criticism and to build a highly innovative working environment to unleash collective potential.

Learn to unlearn, to fill the gap between knowledge and wisdom: With fast-growing information and ever-changing business dynamic, learning and doing nowadays are no longer linear steps, but an iterative continuum.  In fact, it’s not just about learning, but the full cycle of learning, unlearning and relearning should become your lifestyle and business competency. There are invaluable education or experience, but don’t make education or experience as the burden to stop you from learning new things. Knowledge is power, but be aware when some of the long-acquired knowledge is no longer applicable in certain situations. You should no longer apply that knowledge in those specific cases. That means you need to learn how to unlearn and relearn, master the full learning cycle to gain wisdom which has to do with the soundness of judgment. Wisdom is a willingness to accept that, there is unknown in either business or life journey. Putting aside all those trained thoughts, logic, systems and boxes, fill in the updated knowledge, nonlinear digital thinking, always be open-minded to the different point of views, be resourceful and insightful. Filling the gap between knowledge and wisdom is taking a unique and personalized path for developing and growing into high-mature human beings. CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer” should be the “Chief Learning Officer” to keep learning, and encourage their staff learning new knowledge and updating skills as well, to adapt the rapid change and continuous digital disruption.

Running IT as an innovative outlier starts from mind shift of the IT leaders. Innovative CIOs with bold leadership styles are the key to re-imagine IT to achieve the art of possible. Innovation happens at the intersection of people and technology. Innovative IT can only happen if IT is regarded as a partner and given the role in catalyzing innovation and driving changes. Being innovative can become the collective mindset only when IT leaders know how to convey unconventional wisdom, inspire their people to think differently, act differently, deliver differently, and add value differently.  


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