Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The CIO’s Focal Points to Run High-Performance IT Organizations

Leadership is not a setting hour work, but a continuous self-awareness, self-motivation, and self-mastery journey.

Due to the exponential growth of information and frequent technology update, IT plays a pivotal role in leading the digital transformation of their organizations. IT leaders need to create a powerful future that is compelling in the present, utilizing the best talents, capabilities, and resources of their people and organization to produce meaningful and valuable results, set the right priority in the key areas which need daily focus and manage both time and resource with efficiency for running high-performance digital organizations.

Display good digital awareness including self-awareness, technology awareness, and change awareness: Because leadership is about change and progression. One of the most important traits for a CIO or any senior leader is self-awareness which is about understanding your impact on others, the surrounding, and how to leverage your strength and build a team with complementary skills and experiences to improve collective leadership maturity. As IT leader, CIOs also need to have the technologic vision and awareness, drawing from their expertise and experience of those around them, crafting and casting the vision for the ways in which tomorrow’s business technologies can create sustainable business value. As we all know the only "certainty" or a "constant" now is "CHANGE." The rate of change has accelerated, Thus, digital CIOs must have a learning curve awareness for Change Management as well. Change is not for its own sake, it’s about making continuous improvement. Continuous improvement has to link back to the organizational values and culture, and more importantly, it has to be regularly reinforced. Insightful digital leaders with strong “digital awareness,” can sense emergent opportunities, predict potential risks, always have a strong understanding of what the business does, how it does it, and how it could be better.

Work hard to engage with stakeholders: To be the highly effective digital leader, CIOs need to display the hard tech skills and knowledge, but more importantly, they need to be welcomed and invited to the big table, able to listen and translate business needs (what's said, and what's not) into actionable states and clear value delivered. The IT-business gap is reality. The connection between IT and business lies in using the common language to help business cross that bridge to IT. The importance of communication should spill over into all of the operations and strategic planning; cross every departmental boundary and affect every facet of the business. Both need to understand that IT as a function is also business related and a revenue generator, information used for business decisions improves organizational effectiveness, profitability, and intelligence. The concentration should be on what these technologies can do for the businesses, not on the technology itself. The purpose of communication enforcement is about developing a trusted working relationship with correct stakeholders and reinventing IT reputation as the trustful business partner.

Maintain a good balance of inward (IT) and outward (business) focus: “Keeping the light on” is still fundamental. IT management does have the inward focus performance which is measured with metrics such as “uptime,” “cost per transaction,” etc. But today's digital businesses have very high expectation about IT, for being a real partner in the business, IT needs to have outward (business) focus as well, to measure "Margin Contribution," "Sales win percentage," "Yield on investment," etc. CIOs are trustful experts who understand a lot about the performance dynamics, to be seen as value added participants in business conversations regarding the need to increase profit, market penetration, reduce risk, and to increase the velocity/effectiveness of every dollar spent. Remember that knowledge is power and as the CIO, you have to anticipate the next horizon for the company, sell it and then, make it happen. CIO should see beyond the confines of his/her own function by understanding all the moving parts of the business and contribute to the overall improvement of the greater company, To broaden the leadership views further, CIOs must be concerned as to whether the digital ecosystem will function as expected, and develop the best and next practices to reinvent IT to get digital ready. Then, this is the true proactive contribution to the long term business success.

Take structural IT management disciplines: IT is an engineering discipline which requires structural approaches to problem-solving. From IT management perspective, digital leaders need to present the structural thinking skills, have “know-how” technical understanding, to improve operations via reducing the waste and burden on the company, improving systems, streamlining processes and providing continually expanding business solutions. A structural thinking process often includes a cohesive set of multidimensional thought processes such as logical thinking, analysis & synthesis, critical thinking, systems thinking skills, etc, helps IT leaders capture business insight and make effective decisions. For example, Systems Thinking enables digital IT leaders understanding the interconnectivity between parts and the whole, and interdependence of the digital business ecosystem. So, they can take a structural approach to get better solutions by asking big “WHY,” peeling back the layers to find the root cause and address it systematically. They should not only know how to break down the large problems into small pieces but also master on how to integrate the small pieces into the holistic perspectives.

The CIO has to become a continuous learner, and run a “learning organization”: The pervasive digitization means "reduced the time to knowledge."A learning organization is more comfortable with velocity, complexity, ambiguity, paradoxes, responds to change with speed. IT is the linchpin of the digital business, being learning agile is perhaps the only path for running a future-proof digital business. Information and knowledge are the power, technology has played a large role in the diversification and digitalization of the modern workforce and workplace. From IT leadership perspective, a learning agile CIO can make effective decisions, solve problems creatively, and manage a dynamic IT organization via looking at things that are analytical, innovative, critical, with the ultimate goals to achieve and sustain the high-performance business result. If CIOs similarly encourage those they guide to also seek ongoing experience and knowledge, then you will certainly grow a team that can drive your organization to great heights and takes a leap of the digital transformation. With continuous changes and disruptions, digital leaders need to have the ability to inspire and create a culture of learning, change, and innovation.

Leadership is not a setting hour work, but a continuous self-awareness, self-motivation, and self-mastery journey. Contemporary CIOs have diversified experiences and background, break down the stereotypical image to become the change agent of the company. They have multiple personas, but stay focus, explore the breadth and depth of the role and go deeper in order to lead forward with accelerated speed.


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