Friday, November 17, 2017

CIOs as “Chief Interpretation Officer”: How to Improve Communication Effectiveness

CIOs as “Chief Interpretation Officer” is the new digital leadership perspective of harnessing communication and people centricity for accelerating digital transformation.

The magic “I” in the title of CIO has many indications, such as Chief Information Officer,” “Chief Innovation Officer,” “Chief Influence Officer,” etc. Communications sometimes seem like an oxymoron. As we move from applying technology as a vehicle to maximize efficiency and minimize costs to leveraging technology as an enabler and catalyzer of totally new business models, to maximize business potential, forward-thinking organizations empower their IT to lead the digital transformation proactively. Therefore, CIOs need to become “Chief Interpretation Officer,” to bridge the communication gap between business and IT and improve digital leadership maturity.

CIOs need to be great visionary first and good communicator second: Top business leaders are the visionary role who can steer their organizations in the right direction. Digital CIOs today should envision the future of their business via the technological lens, forecast the upcoming business trends and ride the digital waves, and be able to share their vision to get support from business peers. Vision should have a direction which sets in clarity. Thus, CIOs as “Chief Interpretation Officer” who has a vision can also articulate it in a non-technical manner that clearly demonstrates the business value delivered. They can practice creative communication for describing what happens today, but also convey the vision of “to be,” because future is what really matters. Digital CIOs are visionaries and outliers who have the interdisciplinary knowledge and uplevel communication skills to inspire, persuade, and amplify their leadership voice. The solution should lie in changing how the message is delivered, either through a metaphor or a story., etc. The key is language to fit different audience without “lost in translation.” It’s also about how to leverage more open and interactive communication style to bridge the gaps and connect the minds and hearts.  

The CIO needs to talk about commercial outcomes, not technical throughput: Often CIOs have been stereotyped as geeks who speak the different language from the business peers. In fact, miscommunication is one of the biggest root causes of IT-business gaps. The communication gaps within IT, between functions and across business ecosystem will directly decrease IT management effectiveness and degrade the business capability to adapt to changes. There are multiple causes for poor communication, but by far the problem most often is the inability of the "speaker" to adequately accept the real nature of the message or the environment. CIOs as “Chief Interpretation Officer” need to know how to play a bridge between what the business understands and what technology understands. If necessary, apply Tell-Listen-Adapt communication framework to ensure consistency in message delivery.  The connection between IT and business lies in using the common language to help businesses cross that bridge to IT,  good “interpreter” can leverage contextual intelligence and multiple perspectives with respect to make the positive influence on pulling progressive conversation ahead, focus on commercial business outcomes, not just technical throughput.

CIOs as “Chief Interpretation Officer” are able to initiate communication in the different level of the organization with clarity: “Lost in translation” syndrome is caused by mistakes that most organizations make in business communication that fails to translate the high-level language of strategy into the professional language of the various staff specialty for execution. From the top-down perspective, in many organizations, typically, one level of leadership communicates with the next level and so on and typically the message is somewhat diluted by the time it reaches the employee responsible for doing their job. Thus, communication gaps decrease productivity, cause mistrust and decelerate business speed. If people at the bottom and middle level don’t get the opportunity to understand the business’s strategic goals via effective communication, they would be easy to get lost and inundated with daily tasks, less engaged or feel anxious, bored and lack of achievement. Thus, CIOs as “Chief Interpretation Officer” should ensure IT folks understanding the commercial end point of their work rather than it being an abstract set of code via effective communication.

CIOs as “Chief Interpretation Officer” is the new digital leadership perspective of harnessing communication and people centricity for accelerating digital transformation. It’s important to leverage multiple digital channels and methods to communicate both via virtual communication channels and face-to-face meetings. They also need to master all styles of conversations targeting a different audience to develop situational wisdom and influential competency, to rebuild IT reputation as a value creator and innovation hub.


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