Monday, February 5, 2018

CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer”: How Deeply Can you Lead

Being insightful with the true understanding is a life-changing for making sound judgments and improving leadership effectiveness.

Due to the exponential growth of information, fast-paced changes, and continuous disruptions often caused by emerging technologies, IT plays a critical role in navigating the journey of the business's digital transformation. To lead effectively, CIOs need to deal with constant ambiguity and unprecedented uncertainty, overwhelming information and multigenerational workforce. Thus, IT leaders today should become the “Chief Insight Officers,” to gain an in-depth understanding of their organizations both inside-out and outside in order to drive change and lead digitalization. In-depth understanding of either problem you intend to solve or the people you try to get knowing has become an important quality for digital leaders and professionals. CIOs as “Chief Insight Officers,” need to ask themselves: How fluently can you speak the digital dialect? How deeply can you lead? Which leadership strengths do you have and what are the obstacles you should overcome in order to improve IT and overall organizational maturity?

Truly understand the causes of the problems:
Most IT organizations still get stuck at the lower level of maturity is because they are busy on fixing the symptoms, or taking care of immediate problems, with ignorance of digging into the root cause of intricacies. Trying to fix symptoms, not the real problem, will perhaps cause more issues later on, waste resources or time, without truly solving things radically. Business problems become over-complex and interdependent, the assumption that there is a single cause to a “problem” in a complex adaptive system is limited. Data only also does not give you the full insight and understanding of the true nature of problems. Behind every problem is a relationship dynamic out of alignment, thus, understanding the interconnectivity of systems and relationship dynamics are also important as well for both identifying the real issues and solve them smoothly. A better problem-diagnosing scenario that crosses all industries is to keep peeling back the layers to find the root cause via asking “WHYs” or taking other systematic approaches to discover the real cause and address it. IT should proactively work as an integral part of the business to capitalize on opportunity via an in-depth understanding of business and become the trustful business partner.

Gain contextual understanding of the business and capture business insight & foresight from the abundance of information: Misunderstanding is the big cause of many human problems, this is particularly true in today’s digital new normal with the characteristics of velocity, complexity, uncertainty, and ambiguity. From the management perspective, contextual understanding is about getting to understand the whole meaning of functional dialects and business dynamic and perceive the business insight in a cohesive way. IT plays a crucial role in managing data-information- knowledge-insight lifecycle, IT is in the better position to understand the business insightfully and forecast the future needs of customers scientifically. Business context aids IT leaders in understanding what’s relevant and what’s not. What should be focused on is the integration of IT into the business decisions and processes. and leading the business digitalization. From the leadership perspective, insight is the intersection of analytic thinking and synthetic thinking; logic and intuition. An insightful IT leader can master different thought processes fluently via connection, discernment, penetration, and perception, etc, for understanding complex problems and situations as well as capturing the inner nature of things.

CIOs as “Chief Insight Officers” need to have an in-depth understanding of the business and technology: A CIO's knowledge of information and technology must be deep enough to offer the business solutions. Running IT as a digital solutionary is to effectively manage information lifecycle and ensure the right people getting the right information timely to diagnose and solve right problems. The knowledge cycle is significantly shortened due to increasing speed of changes. The variety of information and technology and their rapid obsolescence assumes that it almost impossible to know all IT technologies and knowledge. It is important for IT to discuss with the business customers on what's possible" not just "what do you want." To become the great business solutionary, IT needs to understand business problems and provide pieces of advice and recommendations to the business on how to leverage technology in problem-solving and innovation. The digital IT leader must move away from being a pure IT manager, and become an insightful business problem-solver.

IT leadership has to go deeper. It has to provide both business and technical insight into how they bring success to the company as a whole instead of being a support center. CIOs need to know and relate to what the business value and how they quantify that value first before you can add value to the business. Because being insightful with the true understanding is a life-changing for making sound judgments and improving leadership effectiveness.


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