Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Monthly “12 CIO Personas” Book Turning: CIOs as “Chief Innovation Officer” Feb. 2019

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

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 via 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. Here is a set of blogs to brainstorm CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer.”


CIOs as “Chief Innovation Officer”

CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer”: How to Unleash IT potential in the Digital Era? Nowadays, information is permeating into every corner of the organization, and digital technologies bring unprecedented convenience to both our lives and businesses. Modern IT is not equal to IT modernization, it is the key differentiator of the business to “reimagine what is possible.” To keep IT relevant, CIOs need to think and act like “Chief Innovation Officer”: Running IT as the business in the business to reach its full potential.

Should CIOs Become “Creative Digital Populist”
: Nowadays, information is permeating into every corner of the organization, technology is the driven force behind the digital transformation. IT is making an impact on almost every dimension of the organization. CIOs should step into the void of digital leadership by shaping the strategic mindset, gaining interdisciplinary knowledge, and developing differentiated professional competencies. They are neither controller nor order taker, should they become “creative digital populist,” to harmonize IT-business relationship, delight customers, and engage employees? Do they have a distinct vision about the future of the organization and a clear idea of what needs to be done, for improving IT organizational effectiveness and maturity? Being a digital populist doesn't mean that CIOs lack of character, only run IT as a support center. In fact, confident CIOs with strong character are in demand to rebrand IT as the strategic business partner.

The Digital CIO as “Choice Generator”? The unprecedented digital convenience brought by powerful technologies changes the way we think, live, and work. Embracing digital is inevitable as that is now part of the business venture. The digital era upon us is the era of options, empathy, personalization, and sharing. IT is the linchpin to run a high-performance digital organization. Today’s digital CIOs need to become the “Choice Generator,” envision the emerging technological trends, refine information to capture business foresight and customer insight, imagine the new possibilities and alternative ways to do things, and drive the digital transformation proactively.

The CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer”: Manage IT-Driven Innovation as a Cautionary Tale
Innovation is about transforming novel ideas to achieve their business value. Statistically, innovation has a very low success rate, most innovation management initiatives are not successful and are incredibly wasteful. Innovation fails because there are too many disconnects that occur between the birth of a vision or concept and the process of turning it into a reality. Thus, innovation as a management process needs to be monitored and fine-tuned for making continuous improvement. The CIO as “Chief Innovation Officer” - how to manage IT-driven innovation as a cautionary tale?

Modern CIOs as Digital Adventurists: Traditional IT organizations have been perceived as technical support centers and help desks, and traditional CIOs have been portrayed as technology geeks and controllers to keep the lights on. Digital transformation represents a break from the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. IT plays a differentiated role in such a paradigm shift. Modern CIOs need to keep eyes on what happens today, also be focused on what is next. They are the digital adventurist to lead radical changes and innovation breakthrough.


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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