Friday, October 5, 2018

The Monthly Book Turning: “12 CIO Personas” Summary Oct., 2018

The digital CIOs have to wear different colors of hats and master multiple leadership personas and management roles effortlessly.

Compared to other CxO positions, the CIO role is considerably new with about three decades of history. But contemporary CIO is one of the most sophisticated leadership positions in modern businesses. Due to the disruptive nature of technologies and exponential growth of information, IT leadership has to be continually reimagined, refined, refreshed and re-energized. CIOs are no longer just glorified geeks, but business savvy strategists and transformative digital leaders. Great CIOs have multiple personas, varying personalities, and impressive leadership profiles. The personas can be seen as the “public relations” part of digital CIOs that allow them to interact socially in a variety of situations with relative ease. Contemporary CIOs are expected to wear many hats to practice situational leadership effectively.

The book “12 CIO Personas: The Digital CIO’s Situational Leadership Practices” is the extensive brainstorming and logical content expansion of my book “CIO Master: Unleash the Digital Potential of IT,” to reimagine and reinvent CIO leadership by practicing multitudes of digital influence. The important thing is that CIOs as the top leadership role must have a strong mindset, a unique personality, and a clear idea of what needs to be done, yet creative enough to not hold the company back from growth. Regardless of which personality they have, digital CIOs need to be both transformational and situational, innovative and tactical, business savvy and technology insightful, communication-effective and operation-efficient.

Chapter 1 The CIO as “Chief Information Officer”: Back to its root, the CIO role is to be a "Chief Information Office," as an information management master for the dynamic digital corporation. Because nowadays IT is permeating into every corner of the organization, and the information is the lifeblood of any business across industrial sectors. Information Management effectiveness can leap the business up to the next level of organizational maturity. Information potential directly impacts the business potential for the organization. Managing information and knowledge is a human problem and not just a technological problem.

Chapter 2 The CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer”: Digitalization opens the new chapter of innovation. CIOs need to present the entrepreneurial spirit, learn to think and lead innovatively, take calculated risks while nurturing contingencies and growing great talent, etc. The forward-looking IT organization is the “digital disruptor” of their company because information technology is the disruptive force behind digital innovation. In fact, the CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer” is never about managing status quo. To be truly creative means challenging norms, beliefs, or best practice. It’s about the desire to make things better and advance, take a systematic approach to run a balanced innovation portfolio, and focus on solving problems effectively.

Chapter 3 The CIO as “Chief Insight Officer”: The pace of changes in IT would force more CIOs to shift into the insightful digital leadership role for exploring the breadth and depth of digital new normal. Because IT plays a significant role in driving the digital transformation, also because IT is uniquely positioned to observe processes across the enterprise and build differentiated business competencies. The digital CIOs are mindful, not necessarily over-thinking, they are imaginative, inquisitive, and innovative; they are also strategic, critical, and systems thinkers who are able to perceive the big picture of the business, comprehend the complexity and systemic issues they face in the business and able to understand the interconnectivity between parts and the whole.

Chapter 4 The CIO as “Chief Improvement Officer”: "Continual improvement" is an IT mantra in the digital era. There is never "enough" to optimize IT operations and improve organizational maturity. Continuous improvement is by tweaks of things in the old fashion way to bring efficiency. But, even a very small improvement leverages a new way of doing things, brings an outside method or view, and shifts the paradigm, to get digital ready. Building a culture of continuous improvement is particularly important for IT due to the exponential growth of information, disruptive nature of technology and shortened knowledge life cycle. Improvement is the reward for being willing to change. Improvement can only be there if people accept change, and make the most out of it. Developing a culture of continuous improvement encourages IT staff to get out of the comfort zone, figure out alternative ways to do things, enforce communication and foster innovation.

Chapter 5 The CIO as “Chief Instrument Officer”: The digital paradigm has many dimensions, organizations can harness the power of information to provide the emergent business trends with a fact-based vision of where to aim and how to get there, through identifying the right information, validating it and communicating it to right people at the right time. Information Technology is the linchpin of the emergent digital ecosystem, and the CIO plays an instrumental role in chartering a multidimensional digital paradigm shift seamlessly. CIOs as digital leaders have to lead the real-time global organization via cross-functional, cross-geographical, and even cross-industrial communication and collaboration. IT is the linchpin of the digital ecosystem, and CIOs play an instrumental role in chartering a multidimensional digital paradigm shift seamlessly.

Chapter 6 The CIO as “Chief Interpretation Officer”: The role of the CIO is to take the 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. 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 level of IT maturity for enabling and engaging with the business. The clear-cut divide that used to be there between IT and business in the olden days is vanishing fast; IT is the business. IT-business relationship needs to be shifted from alignment to integration to engagement to ensure that the business as a whole is superior to the sum of pieces. The top leaders such as CIOs have to be fluent in both business and IT dialogues, and switch them back and forth without “lost in translation.”

Chapter 7 The CIO as “Chief Inspection Officer”: IT plays a significant role in digital transformation, as more often than not, technology is a major digital disruptor today. The purpose of digital transformation is to embed digital technology into key business processes and improve business capabilities to compete for the future. Quality is defined by a number of factors, and to effectively lead an organization into good practices to focus on quality attributes takes work and a level of credibility within the organization. The quality check of IT management is to ensure IT is the enabler and even a game-changer of the digital transformation. IT management quality check-up is important for improving IT and the entire business performance and maturity. IT management quality directly impacts the entire business’s competence and resilience, surviving and thriving capability.

Chapter 8 The CIO as “Chief Interaction Officer”: Good relationships with the right people make a business work. All businesses come down to people who plan to implement a solution. Whether it is with IT assistance or just by re-engineering an existing process, the work begins with people, the praise comes from people and the complaints often originate with people. Modern CIOs as “Chief Interaction Officers,” can master how to well manage different dimensions of IT relationship to improve leadership effectiveness. 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. 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.

Chapter 9 The CIO as “Chief Intrapreneur Officer”: The heart of entrepreneurship is about changes, and organizations no matter large or small, all face the unprecedented changes, uncertainty, and velocity. Corporate Entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship has been recognized as a potentially viable, it means for promoting and sustaining organizational performance, renewal, and corporate competitiveness. IT needs to spend more resources on spotting business growth opportunities, looking for solutions which will directly benefit the external customers, improve the business competitive advantage, and brings in increased revenue. CIOs need to shift their management orientation and thinks like entrepreneurs. Being entrepreneurial is first the mindset, and then attitude, skills are the easier part to be developed. Intrapreneur leaders present solid leadership attributes such as “full open communication,” “creativity,” “confidence,” “resourcefulness,” “decisiveness,” “ownership,” “self-adaptation,” and "resilience." IT is the business in the business.

Chapter 10 The CIOs as “Chief Investment Officer”: Nowadays, technology is the disruptive force behind digital transformation and information is the gold mine all forward-thinking businesses are digging in. Companies across industrial sectors claim they are in the information management business. Thus, IT investment in the business can often become the decisive factor for running a high-performance organization with the long-term perspective. IT and business should work closely to assess performance and potential benefit from IT investment portfolio, and then determine what IT investment will accelerate the changes you want to see in your performance indicators. IT competency, especially the ability to make the continuous improvement with consistency is the soft asset by which organizations can differentiate themselves from competitors and reach the next cycle of growth and unlock the digital potential of the business. The success of the CIO is based on how their departmental KPIs are performing and how aligned they have been with their contribution to the corporate performance.

Chapter 11 The CIO as “Chief Integration Officer”: It is the digital era, IT organizations are transforming from “Build to last,” to “Design to Change,” and “Cloudify to Speed Up.” Especially, in large complex enterprises where there are many revenue streams, many business units, many geographies involved, many products and services will be having a variety of data, the variety of systems to handle the business. Integration is not always cost-effective, but to ensure that the application eco-system offers real value and future agility. The highly effective corporations need to embed the power of information in its fiber to ensure IT is an integral part the business to build the differentiated business competency.

Chapter 12 The CIOs as “Chief Influence Officer”: Last but not least, CIOs are “Chief Influence Officers.” The command-control leadership style is no longer fit for the hyperconnected and highly transparent digital new normal. Digital CIOs today must develop their leadership competency to make multidimensional influence across the organization as well as the digital ecosystem. The CIO is the leadership role, not just a management job. Leadership is not a setting-hour work, but a continuous self-awareness, self-motivation, and self-mastery journey. CIOs should spend time on developing self and others, set the strong leadership tone to build the culture of learning and innovation in their organization. Leadership is an influence and practice.

Digital CIOs should have their own unique leadership voice based on their differentiated leadership competency. A digital CIO has to be a digital visionary, a transformational leader, an empathetic communicator, a good facilitator, a great listener, and an excellent digital game changer.  Modern organizations have their own sophistication with silo functions, the sea of information, and the pool of talents. The CIO is an inherently cross-functional role, to bridge the business and IT; the data and insight, the business’s today and tomorrow. The digital CIOs have to wear different personas and master multiple leadership and management roles effortlessly. They need to lead at the strategic level for conducting a complex digital orchestra; they should be handy managers to plumbing information and keep it flow smoothly; they also have to be like the diligent gardeners, to build a unique IT landscape via tuning technology, removing waste, nurturing culture, and empowering people.


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