Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The New Book “12 CIO Personas” Chapter 8 Introduction: The CIO as “Chief Interaction Officer”

CIOs not only should have a seat at the big table, more importantly, but they also need to have the differentiated leadership voice and provide unique digital insight.

Traditional IT organizations are often perceived as the support function or the cost center, and traditional CIOs are perceived as tactical IT managers and tech geeks who often have the poor reputation of business communication. Thus, to reimagine IT with the art of possible and reinvent IT to get digital ready, CIOs are the “Chief Interaction Office,” to envision, communicate, connect, and innovate in order to build the solid business relationship and improve organizational management maturity.

Trust relationships are the foundation of open culture: The deeper the trust, the more valuable the relationship. Without a good business relationship, every decision becomes an argument. But a professional relationship doesn’t mean to hang around or play around, meddling with the personal relationship, it's about building trust via in-depth observation, communication, and understanding, read between the lines or listen to what not being said, to have both sense and sensitivity to initiate quality conversations. In IT leadership practices, there are multi-layer relationships CIOs need to manage. IT leaders should target different audiences, such as business peers/shareholders relationship, customer relationship, vendor relationship, etc, tailor special needs in order to build up the long-term empathic and open business culture. IT needs to speak business, not technology. IT these days not only needs to work closely with the business but also directly manages the digital touch point of end customers.

Master of strategic conversations at the big table with clarity: IT is no longer running as an isolated function or back officer utility, IT has to add more business value and delight both internal and end customers. It’s important to focus on discussing how to leverage IT for implementing strategy and engage IT in business changes. The big concern in most of the organization is dealing with change, as the current business environment changes so fast that it is tougher for IT to adjust quickly to support. Companies that leverage technology to create key differentiation among the competition is usually much successful than those who don’t. Thus, it’s critical for the CIO to communicate and work closely with other CXOs to engage IT with overall business strategy internally and externally. The strategic conversation between the CIO and other C-levels focuses on both top-line business growth and innovation, as well as bottom line business efficiency. Technology is a means to the end. Digital CIOs are talking about the strategic use of technology to meet these concerns and if they are really smart, they are working with other C-levels in the power base to ensure that technology delivery is aligned with the strategic business goals and they can show ROIs.

Make a leap of IT digital transformation via healthy debating: IT is at the crossroad to either become irrelevant or it has to improve its maturity as the trustful business partner. The healthy debates help the business and IT do more reflection via pondering deeper and understanding things from multidimensional angles. Having healthy debating enforces critical thinking principles - increased perspective, less prejudgment, and looking at things from different angles. Critical Thinking plus healthy debating streamline IT leadership journey from good to great, from “command and control” to innovativeness. The CIO needs to be able to recognize areas of deficiencies and inefficiencies, and then ask the open questions for stimulating healthy debates and throw challenges for IT teams to solve them creatively. A digital CIO would keep everyone involved and foster a working environment to inspire creative thinking and critical thinking, and spur healthy debates for sparking innovation.

CIOs not only should have a seat at the big table, more importantly, but they also need to have the differentiated leadership voice and provide unique digital insight. Modern CIOs as “Chief Interaction Officers” who can master how to well manage different dimension of business relationship, will directly impact their leadership effectiveness and maturity for the long term.


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