Wednesday, May 9, 2018

CIOs as “Chief Insight Officer” How to Overcome IT Leadership Challenges

CIO is not a static management role, but a dynamic leadership role that needs to continually practice, experience, learn and adjust. 

Forward-looking organizations empower CIOs to the big table for co-creating strategy and lead digitalization. The increasing speed of changes forces IT leaders to get really creative on how they architect and implement change, to ensuring IT is strategically positioned to be ahead of where the business is moving next. The IT leaders of the future and the exemplars of today must move away from pure IT managers, to overcome IT leadership challenges and thrive to become the digital master.

Capture the business oversight: Digital CIOs need to shift their role from tactical IT manager to strategic business leader. The CIO sits in a unique seat of having the opportunity to see across the entire landscape of the business as well as underneath the business functions and processes. The CIO has to work with the senior executives to understand the business, the business drivers, long-term objectives, and strategy, ensure that IT strategy is an integral part of the business strategy. If IT could capture insight and foresight of the business, ultimately become the “digital brain” of the organization, the organization would become highly responsive and highly innovative; prosper and grow. In reality, many IT managers are inundated with many tactical issues, keep hands busy, but often ignore the “big picture” of the business. To overcome IT leadership challenges, it is healthy for the CIO and senior management to honestly assess their company’s maturity level and capabilities for change, fill gaps proactively and take a step-wise approach to build business competency.

Master Overarching Information Management Discipline: Information Management is the overall process of aligning the use of information through management practices. IT provides a nervous system to the business. The intrinsic value of information management is to turn the most valuable information and knowledge assets into corporately owned assets. The goal of information management is to ensure information assurance and improve business responsiveness. If information management is not managed in a proper way, it may lead to wrong decisions and hence, impact on the business surviving and growing. Information does not live alone but permeates to everywhere in the businesses. Thus, the value of information is not isolated, Information Management is an overarching management discipline. IT has to break down silo to enable information flow frictionlessly and ensure that the right people can get the right information to improve decision effectiveness and build business competency. Therefore, IT leaders have to work both in IT and on IT, communicate and collaborate cross-functionally in order to overcome leadership challenges.

Avoid being overwhelmed: Most IT organizations today are overloaded and understaffed, IT is in the middle of a sea change. Therefore, IT leaders have to avoid being overwhelmed. No matter where you are in IT, the world changes with accelerated speed. Digital CIOs have multiple leadership and management role to play, and many thorny problems to solve. Though it doesn’t mean that CIOs will solve every problem on their own. The only way a leader can avoid overwhelming is to set the right priority, focus on really important issues, learn how to delegate, build a strong team and empower them to solve problems at the opportunity within their sphere of authority rather than letting it migrate vertical or horizontal through the chain of command points. Moreover, improve a line of communications with your managers and workers to anticipate potential problems and identify opportunities for solutions. This helps to put the magnitude of an issue in perspective and allows you to better prioritize. It also involves the team in the process that helps them grow, to become great independent thinkers, communicators, problem-solvers, and innovators. Thus, great leaders can lead teams of potential leaders, not through cookie-cutter approach, but through gap-minding and tailored leadership development and mentoring.

With the exponential growth of information and technology-driven disruptions, CIO is not a static management role, but a dynamic leadership role that needs to continually practice, experience, learn and adjust. To overcome IT leadership challenges, IT leaders must understand both business and IT world well, learning the business is a must for the CIO to come up with experiential knowledge coupled with information for improving organizational maturity. It takes practice, practice, and practice more for mastering leadership and getting IT digital ready.


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