Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The CIO as “Chief Insight Officer”: Deepening the Organizational Understanding to Improve Leadership Effectiveness

Gaining an in-depth understanding of the multitude of IT management disciplines and the business ecosystem is important to help you put things in context and run IT from outside-in.

Organizations across the sectors are on the journey of digitalization, stepping into the deep, deep digital new normal with the overwhelming growth of information, continuous technological disruptions, and increasing business velocity. Thus, IT leaders today need to be “Chief Insight Officer,” to gain an in-depth understanding of their organization both inside-out and outside in. Because the true understanding is a life-changing for making sound judgments and improving leadership effectiveness. When you truly understand, you know the real issues are, you’ll know what you need, and how to get what you need to fix them. And then leadership can be applied concretely by steering IT organization in the right direction with steadfast speed.

Understand your IT strengths and weaknesses:
Many IT organizations still get stuck in the lower level of the business maturity. IT assessment is a great way to identify what is right or wrong in the IT environment, not everyone will be happy about it, but you can detect issues before they start to cause major problems. IT assessment should cover people, processes, products, and partners and should be performed by an external group to remove any bias or tunnel vision from internal staff members. Pure health check techniques, interviews, third-party relationship analysis are all techniques that can be applied to give a picture of what is working or not. It is important for IT leaders to understand and create a comprehensive list of your IT organization’s strengths, weaknesses, goals, and objectives based on self-evaluation and customers’ feedback. SWOT analysis is also an important tool to help IT managers understand their business competency and weak spot, the goals and objective are the business drivers, but weaknesses are your constraints. SWOT Analysis is not for building a detailed and in-depth analysis of decision-making, it helps to provide big-picture views with limited (3-5) possibilities in each (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat). Through making an objective IT assessment check and apply SWOT analysis, IT leaders can have a comprehensive understanding of IT environment and identify the root cause of problems and take a logical scenario to fix them smoothly.

Understand your IT teams strengths and weaknesses: People are still the most invaluable asset and capital investment, but often the weakest link in any organization today. In fact, among the most pervasive and persistent concerns or complaints from IT leaders are the skills gaps. The talent gap is the reality, not a fiction. Keep in mind that the skills problem is not just with entry level people, mid-level and senior level managers and staff also have skills problem. This is particularly true for IT talent management due to the exponential growth of information and change nature of technology, and shortened knowledge lifecycle. CIOs should have the deep understanding of their talented people because they are the center of changes. Understanding of people means truly knowing who they are, how they think, and who they want to become, not based on their physical identity, but seeing through their character, thought process, learning agility, strength, and personality. Collectively, how to build a strong IT team with cognitive differences, complementary skills, and right competencies to implement the business strategy. Thus, make an objective talent assessment via different angles such as technical skills, business acumen, learning capacity, interpersonal skills, communication styles, etc. Give employees the opportunity to thrive and as long as the roles of the functions remains clear, empower the staff to get on and do what they do best in the way that they do it best.

In-depth knowledge of your business and your competitors: Nowadays, to run IT as the change organization, IT needs to be managed both in IT and on IT. Thus, IT leaders should have an in-depth knowledge of their company, and the breadth of the digital CIO role requires IT leaders today to gain a deep understanding of the businesses ecosystem, including customers, employees, business partners, and all other stakeholders, processes, the business's competitive landscape, industries, and leverage their technological visions for trendsetting and leading forward. The business system is complex and the organization is contextual, without contextual understanding about people, process, and technology, the blind spots and gaps are inevitable. Some say digital enlarges the functional gaps because different parts of the organization evolve digitalization with different speed. Thus, it is a strategic imperative for IT leaders to know how to play a bridge between what the business understands and what technology understands. Context aids us in understanding what’s relevant and what’s not. They would then make sure the two worlds meet to ensure an optimal performing business. An effective CIO with business acumen would help to maximize the long-term growth and profit of the organization, having the financial possibility of becoming truly innovative, and becoming a better competitor at the organization business domain level.

No matter where you are in IT, the world changes with accelerated speed. Gaining an in-depth understanding of the multitude of IT management disciplines and the business ecosystem is important to help you put things in context and run IT from outside-in, to listen and remain balanced, but razor focus on what is the top priority for the business and what defines the business success, and ensure IT-business as an integral whole to achieve the great business performance result.


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