Monday, October 9, 2017

CIOs as "Chief Insight Officer" What's Inside the Mind of Digital CIOs

The digital CIOs are mindful, not necessarily over-thinking, they are imaginative, inquisitive, and innovative.

If the digital business is the living entity which continues to grow and thrive, people are like the cells, and functions are like organ, Due to the complex nature of technology and shortened knowledge life cycle, CIOs as IT leaders need to be multidimensional thinkers for gaining an in-depth understanding of both technology and business via different lenses, practice engineering discipline to improve IT management maturity, reinvent IT as the digital “whole brain” of the business, and run a highly responsive and highly intelligent company. More specifically, what’s inside the mind of CIOs though to become high-effective and high innovative digital leader?

Critical Thinking: The success story of IT is perhaps similar. But each failure has different root cause, and there are many pitfalls to run a differentiated IT, such as silo thinking, analysis paralysis, legacy technologies, lack of business or IT understanding, not leveraging the collective brainpower of strategic vendor partnerships, lack of in-depth understanding of the business capabilities or resources, lack of business/IT communication and collaboration, and lack of outside-in customer-centric approaches. Thus, IT leaders must leverage critical thinking in diagnosing the real issues of their organization, make continuous improvements for achieving operational excellence and customer satisfaction. At the entire organizational scope, the purpose of critical thinking is given in the quality of collective thought upon business vision and strategy, and how effective you can make decisions to move the business forward and upward with digital speed. Due to “VUCA” business new normal, people must continually seek to question, develop important skills to deal with the multi-logical situation with today’s hyper-connected digital dynamic,  which are complex in nature with many moving parts, it requires multiple disciplines, or has multiple valid viewpoints to deal with multi-logical situations, and figure out alternative solutions to either old or emergent problem. Organizations as a whole have to adopt digital management practices with overarching critical thinking skills to stay ahead of change curve, and people must continually seek to question, inform, and act to improve business transparency and accountability with consequences.

Strategic thinking: Digital CIOs are not just tactical IT managers, but highly ranked business strategists. Thus, a CIO needs to think about freeing some time to learn for real business from the business strategist’s perspective. Strategic thinking starts with the end in mind, with a clear vision the business wants to reach. IT strategic planning as an integral part of business strategy deals with real issues IT needs to handle, know what to look for, how to set guidelines, when to make choices, as a natural extension of business scenario planning. Digital CIOs equipped with strategic thinking are able to clarify the business purpose of running a healthy IT management portfolio, why and what you want to achieve in a particular context and the whole configuration of interconnected and continuous interacting components and systems. Strategic thinking is about change, and outcomes are positive changes to a business. How does the action help the business compete to win today? And how will this action help to compete and win going forward? If both sides can be filled, and then the choice is a GO. A strategic CIO can contribute more to the business’s top line business growth and organizational competency.

Innovative Thinking: One of the most critical titles of CIOs is “Chief Innovation Officer.” As a CIO, you need to understand what the organization’s expectation from IT through innovation lenses. IT leaders who master at innovative thinking can clarify the role of IT in innovation via connecting important dots across the business ecosystem. In fact, the CIO as Chief Innovation Officer is never about managing status quo, To be truly innovative is about breaking down “We always do things like that” mentality, continue innovating IT via developing next practices, encourage IT professionals to ask thought-provoking questions, take the risk of experimenting new ways to do things, discover the unique path perhaps others never take before. IT is uniquely positioned to observe processes across the enterprise. Sometimes, when one business area has a new product that can be used by another, IT leaders can connect the dots to come up with new innovative solutions, IT can also scale innovation practices to amplify its effect. An innovative CIOs also should have wise eyes to recognize innovators in their organization, and build highly innovative teams which well-mix innovator personas, movers, and shakers, experimenters, reframers, set the right tone to inspire fresh thinking and encourage new way to do things and manage a balanced, enterprise-wide innovation portfolio mixing with both incremental innovations and breakthrough innovations effortlessly.

Systems Thinking: Effective senior management leaders should be able to comprehend the complexity and the systemic issues they face and be able to consider this in their strategy management. Thus, Systems Thinking is important for them to understand the interconnectivity between parts and the whole. IT is in the unique position to have an oversight of the underlying business functions and processes, and bridge the gap business IT and business, Systems Thinking helps IT leaders discover the interconnectivity and interdependence of the digital business ecosystem, improve business processes and optimize business capabilities. Systems Thinking might slow down the decision-making scenario, for strategic or any critical decisions, but it is an important thinking scenario to improve leadership maturity. CIO who masters Systems Thinking can well balance positive internal relationship via systematic information management; and also has some of the analytic and synthetic qualities that are commonly associated with successful executives, it’s the necessary thinking process to do both analytics and synthesis, to see both trees and forest, either for decision-making or problem-solving.

Simplicity as the mindset: By nature, technology is complex, but IT is not for enforcing complexity, but for optimizing and hiding the complicated side of IT from the customers and delight them with intuitive designs. Although we know every intelligence has certain complexity in it, complexity is not equal to the complication, complexity is sometimes necessary, but complication can always be optimized. If complication causes uncertainty, insecurity and a sense of incompetence. When things get more and more complicated, the misunderstanding pop up, and the digital gaps enlarge. Thus, CIOs need to equip with simplicity as the mindset, to be passionate about simplicity and optimization. Keep things simple. Logically, simplifying the complicated thing is an optimal and smart choice, to bridge IT-business gaps, harmonized business relationships, and create business synergy to let information and ideas flow.

The digital CIOs are mindful, not necessarily over-thinking, they are imaginative, inquisitive, and innovative. They are paranoid about fierce competitions, they are paranoid about overwhelming information. They are paranoid, but not weak, they spend more time on thinking thoroughly and act promptly to adapt to changes, forecast and manage risks, and focus on the long-term winning position to run a high performance and high-mature digital IT.


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