Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Five “Missing-Links” to Stop IT from Reaching Next Level of Maturity

To identify and strengthen these missing links, business management needs to gain the contextual understanding of the business hyper-connectivity and interdependence.

Nowadays, information and technology become the creative disrupter to business growth and industry evolution. IT is no longer just an enabler of the business strategy, but becomes an integral part of the strategy. However, in many companies across industrial sectors, IT is still perceived as an isolated support function and reactive service provider. How to identify and strengthen those missing links in order to run a high mature digital IT organization?

Misinformation: IT takes charge of one of the most valuable business assets - information. Information does not live alone but permeates into everywhere in the businesses. Thus, the value of information is not isolated. Misinformation can cause business fail at any moment. If information is unavailable, inaccurate, lost, stolen, or compromised, it will hinder the achievement of business goals, disappoint customers, and even misled the business in the wrong direction. Information is critical, not every piece of information is created equal though. In a business scope, there are some of the important bits and bytes of information needed when evaluating a new market or any emerging business growth opportunity. Information Management is the structural process of aligning the usage of information through the multidisciplinary management discipline. Thus, to strengthen information management link, IT should first work to identify how information is associated with the tangible value of businesses; products and resources. It’s also critical to ensure information quality, accessibility, reliability, and refine information to fully support the business goals and objectives collaboratively.

Miscommunication: The gap between IT and business is reality, and often miscommunication is the root cause. Communication is complicated because there are differences in goals and contexts. There are different business dialects, communication styles, and these contexts can shift frequently. The business system is complex and the organization is multifaceted. Without the contextual understanding of people, process, technology, or system, the blind spots are inevitable and cause miscommunication across functional or geographical borders. Miscommunication enlarges business gaps and decelerates the organizational speed. Communication is the key to improve leadership effectiveness and reinvent IT reputation as a trustworthy business partner. CIOs can lift their role as the strategic business leader and skillful communicator via their unique perspective and insightful abstract. They can communicate effectively with all levels of the organization by interpreting both business and IT issues back and forth accurately without “lost in translation.” The great communicators can communicate objectively with strong logic, clarity, and understanding. Communication is not just the soft discipline, it’s both an art and science.

Misinterpretation: A well-established organization has different dialects, every organizational functions or division has its own focus and dialect. Misinterpretation is perhaps caused by pre-conceptual judgment, random assumptions, or simply lack of deeper understanding. Without using common business language or enforcing mutual understanding, misinterpretation will further cause dysfunctional business management. In fact, the “lost in translation” is the common pitfalls of strategy management. In the digital working environment, context intelligence is about understanding the whole meaning of functional dialects and business cultures or subcultures via connection, discernment, penetration, and perception, etc. Business leaders today need to know how to read between the lines and understand the inter-connectivity between parts and the whole without getting lost in interpretation. They can overcome those communication obstacles, master different business dialects and convey the right message in the right format to tailor different audiences for strengthening business relationship links and improving leadership effectiveness.

Mistrust: Mistrust is often caused by miscommunication, lack of transparency, or micromanagement. Mistrust further causes damages of business relationship and enlarges gaps of involving parties. The deeper the trust, the more valuable the relationship would be. Without a trustful business relationship, every decision becomes an argument and change get stuck. IT leaders have to be able to demonstrate in very tangible ways that IT understands business and builds trustful business-IT relationship via in-depth observation, communication, and empathetic understanding, etc. Transparency is critical to develop a trusting relationship between the business and IT. To keep IT and business on the same page, IT leaders have to reach out horizontally to their business peers. IT, marketing, finance, HR, etc. IT leaders can manage multi-layer relationships such as business peer/shareholder relationship, customer relationship, vendor relationship., etc. Trust = Communication +Transparency + Delegation + Reciprocity + Verification.

Misjudgment: Nothing is certain with the rapid digital flow, business executives, including CIOs have to make assumptions or “forecast” all the time. You have to make them, but you will never have complete information, Forecast precision will help the company prepare the journey for either capturing the rising business opportunities timely or preventing potential risks effortlessly. From decision management perspective, many leaders make poor judgment, due to the lack of comprehensive knowledge, lack of critical thinking, independent thinking, and Systems Thinking abilities, cognitive bias, or preconceived notions. Ego leads to misjudgment as well. Do not fall into linear thought traps, you need to listen, accept, and act on the blind spot. When you intend to understand, interpret and judge something, you need to form a critical opinion of it based on facts, discerned data, common understanding, and clarified notions to ensure the pieces of the puzzle can be integrated into a clear picture.

To identify and strengthen these missing links, business management, especially at the senior management level, needs to gain the contextual understanding of the inter-connectivity of both visible and invisible business success factors, apply interdisciplinary approaches to planning, managing, collaborating, enforce inter-organizational linkage, and take step-wise actions to improve digital management maturity.


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