When looking at descriptions of successful IT executives (whether the word in between Chief & Officer is Information, Digital, Technology), key words found include ‘collaborative,’ ‘business-savvy,’ ‘influencer,’ ‘social.’ (For the purposes of this article, I’m using CIO to mean the executive(s) with primary accountability for technology.) Even if there are technology challenges in these organizations, there is trust and comfort that the leader will fix them.
When talking to organizations who are having technology challenges, I often hear that the CIO knows a lot about technology but 1) didn’t establish relationships with their peer executives, 2) didn’t understand the business, 3) couldn’t develop the right workforce, 4) couldn’t manage our vendors …. and so on. These aren’t technology issues. These are leadership issues.
CIOs must be Chief Officers before they are technology executives.
Know the business. Deep understanding of the business(es) of your organization is a must. It’s more important for me to understand how UNH runs than it is to know the details of fiber channel backups. I’ve got an skilled technology team, for me to know everything they know would be a) impossible and b) redundant.
Get out of your box. Have conversations with business leaders and key personnel (like a top product manager or sales person) that aren’t part of your slate of regularly scheduled meetings. They’ll appreciate your time, and you’ll learn a ton.
Go to where people stand. Literally and figuratively. What’s going well? What are they worried about? What are the top things they are working on? What’s their favorite mobile app?
Give without getting. Help people without expecting anything in return. While internal charge backs for IT service is de rigeur for most organizations, it can be a barrier. If someone needs a small mobile app or an extra wireless access point, just do it or buy it and don’t worry about the money. Call these small expenditures “loss leaders” and move on.
The only technology point I’m going to make here: Move towards a mobile-first or mobile-only strategy. If you haven’t already done this, you’re behind. There are ~ 7 billion mobile phones in the world, compared to 7 billion people (sadly this is not a 1-1 ratio, which is a topic for another day). How often are you connected to wired ethernet? Thought so…..
You cannot deliver innovation that makes a positive contribution to your organization unless you connect. And you can’t connect unless you unplug.
I’ll be at SXSW in Austin TX, as part of a panel on “CIOs: Catalysts for Innovation” with my colleagues @philkomarny and @davewaldron. Moderated by notable IT analyst and consultant @mkrigsman, join us on March 6 at 10:30 a.m., and follow us using Twitter hashtag #SXSWCIO.
I heard a disturbing anecdote about someone thinking that when using the in-car navigation system, they don’t need to use turn signals because the car puts on the directionals automatically. This might explain the near-misses I’ve seen recently. (Are there cars that do this?)
The Team USA v Team Russia game on February 15 was one of the best Olympic hockey games I’ve ever seen (the Miracle of 1980 being of course the penultimate). Oshie, Kessel, and of course former @UofNH player James Van Riemsdyk and the team showed persistence and perseverance through a full game, overtime and shoot out.