Monday, July 22, 2019

The Digital CIO’s Five-Step Leadership Scenario

 The top CIOs today must have unique business insight and high level of influence on driving business forward by taking a logical leadership scenario and making continuous deliveries.

With information technology permeating into every aspect of the business, the role of the CIO is to drive the corporate vision and strategy through effectiveness and innovation in the knowledge and information channels. The CIO has to look forward and actively position the business in the right place to take full advantage of opportunities also manage risks accordingly. The CIO needs to be engaged, and at the most senior levels to help influence and shape the business of the future. Here is the digital CIO’s five-step leadership scenario.

Listen: To reinvent IT from a cost center to a proactive business partner, a CIO needs to first understand their business and industry, listen to customers, stakeholders, vendors, partners, and staff, let them tell you their stories, comprehend and understand the people and the business they are part of, before embarking on any new way to drive changes. Besides “keeping the lights on,” it’s important for IT to provide the unique advantage that really helps business partners see how they can differentiate themselves or their business practices. Evaluate IT performance based on the value or competitive advantage it brings to the business. The proactive IT leaders and sponsors attended business reviews with the various business stakeholders in attendance, also invite varying business stakeholders to IT forums, develop the close business-IT relationship via proactive interaction, empathetic communication, and cross-functional collaboration. Listen, participate, be part of the business, generate business results and creative strategic business value.

Guide: Forward-looking companies empower IT leaders to drive changes because IT is a significant element of any differentiated business capability and the defining factor for competitive business advantage. IT leaders need to share their technological vision, make information-based business forecast and focus on guiding the company through the digital transformation. They need to have their own transformation playbook to guide changes and transform the company’s underlying functions, processes, structures, cultures, and organization as a whole with adjusted digital speed. Setting digital guidelines, tuning organizational structures, and managing a healthy application portfolio are all important steps in shaping digital competency. CIOs must be able to relay complex technical ideas in a non technical manner to business leaders and have the skills to communicate change effectively, inspire and motivate, help people navigate through difficult changes and achieve their goals. Guiding is not a passive activity, there are a lot of learning, brainstorming, relearning, interpreting, persuading, mentoring, and influencing.

Act: How successful organizations can handle digital disruption depends on how fast and capable they can adapt to the ever-changing environment. With exponential growth of information and rapid changes, speed is critical for the survival of the organization. The technology trend moves very quickly; slow movers almost always pay the price. IT leaders today need to decide effectively and take actions quickly for driving changes, implementing the strategy, optimizing business processes or tuning organizational structures continually. This requires an unprecedented level of collaboration with the line managers and business units who own those processes. Digital organizations must have strategic responsiveness to process business information almost real-time, communicate and collaborate with business counterparts timely.

Rule: Breaking down some outdated rules and establishing the digital principles are critical to run highly innovative IT. CIOs in these organizations are empowered and given a seat at the big table to co-develop the strategy and co-set the rules for information management, technology update, as well as driving transformative changes. The digital rules are not some out-of-date cliche or overly rigid procedures to stifle changes. They help to shape the mindsets behind behaviors and actions, and guide decision-making across the organizational hierarchy. By following the digital principles and rules, the business life cycle could be viewed as resulting in emergent means of reorganizing business functions, refocusing on dynamic strategy, rebalancing resources, and redirecting people to understand the whole for reaching the next level of organizational maturity.

Guard: The CIO is in the unique position to oversee business processes, projects, tools, cultures, and risk management, with the special lens focused on technology as a key element. Constantly assess the vulnerability of the information and take a more proactive approach to governance and risk management. Only with effective governance principles and practices, IT leaders can guard change, make the business value proposition more resilient and lead business improvement and breakthrough innovation. IT performance measurement helps IT executives continue to review upon ROIs of existing IT investment and improve IT management effectiveness and efficiency. To guard thoroughly, the performance measures should cover all areas that contribute to value creation including service quality, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and financial outcomes.

The role of IT is at the inflection point to go digital. IT shouldn’t be just satisfied with the surviving mode, it has to be thriving. The CIO is not just a tactical manager, but a strategic business leader. The role of the CIO should be able to envision not only where and organization believes it is going, but how it will get there, and how it might be missing out on opportunities or face the risks. The top CIOs today must have unique business insight and high level of influence on driving business forward by taking a logical leadership scenario and making continuous deliveries.


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