Monday, January 8, 2018

The New Book “12 CIO Personas” Chapter VI Introduction: The CIO as “Chief Interpretation Officer”

Great digital CIOs need to have both thinking and communication skills to be able to represent themselves, to be able to persuade and gain trust and respect.

IT is on the journey to shift from a cost center to a profit rainmaker. CIOs are no longer good enough to be tactical IT managers only, they have to play multiple leadership roles and wear multiple hats to deal with the unprecedented business complexity today. One of the important roles for the contemporary CIO is “Chief Interpretation Officer,” who is fluent in the business language and IT terminology, to ensure the seamless cross-functional communication without “lost in translation,” and improve IT management maturity.

Connecting IT and business without “lost in translation”: The role of the CIO is to take vision and strategic goals of the business and translate them into the technology requirements, and then communicate further with IT staff and translate technique requirement to their daily tasks. Usually, a well-established organization has different dialects, strategy communication has to be customized from general management background to technical background employees. In practice, the mistake that most organizations make in this regard is that they fail to translate the high-level language of strategy into the professional language of the various staff specialism. Thus, the digital CIOs have to be fluent in both business and IT dialogues, and switch them back and forth without “lost in translation.” There are hard communication barriers such as outdated processes, procedures, practices or soft barriers such as culture, politics, or leadership styles, negative emotions, etc, and perhaps many hidden pitfalls on the way. Thus, today’s highly effective digital leaders have to overcome these communication obstacles, master different business dialects and convey the right messages to tailor different audiences for harnessing communication effectiveness.

Language influences perception: Communication, collaboration, and creativity are the keys to run IT as a better business partner. Without a clear strategy and a better way to communicate in the language of the business, CIOs will always have trouble getting even “aligned,” no mention of reaching the higher IT maturity level of enabling and engaging with the business. Some IT organizations have been perceived as the service provider that is based on the assumption that the language of finance is the closest thing to a universal language among the different functions. It is easier to calculate TCO around services rather than as a resource or asset level. That being said, language influences perception, if IT intends to rebrand itself as a strategic business partner, besides finance language, there is a different way to communicate. And it is worth the effort to take better communication approaches and be both creative and critical in enforcing business and IT collaboration.

CIOs should learn how to tell the full story about digitalization, with shapes and colors, not just part of the plot: Digitization is neither about adopting a couple of technology gadgets nor designing a fancy interface only. IT leaders need to be able to convey the technological vision vividly and articulate varying opportunities and possibilities, potential curbs or bumps, upward challenges and downwards risks on the way. The CIO’s strategic communication should embrace creativity, context, cascade, and tailor the varying business audience, in order to close cognitive gaps and enforce mutual understanding. Historically, IT has had poor communication accountability within IT or between business and IT, CIOs as good “storytellers” will help business customers or partners gain open perspectives of IT performance and potential, close perception, communication, and collaboration gaps between IT and business. It helps to rebrand IT as a creative business partner and a trustful advisor.

Great digital CIOs need to have both thinking and communication skills to be able to represent themselves, to be able to persuade and gain trust and respect. The good communication should be interesting enough to engage others, meaningful enough to touch the hearts, logical enough to connect the minds, and vivid enough to reimagine IT for getting digital ready.


Post a Comment