Everyone talks about “the transformational CIO”.  But what does that actually mean?  What does a transformational CIO look like?

Top Answer : It depends on who you're asking. What I find is often, people ask for a transformational CIO and don't know what they're looking for. I've actually had interviews where people tell me, "Oh, we want this and that, but we don't know why." Those are some of the most dangerous organizations to engage with because they know they're in trouble, they know they're not operating fast enough, they know IT doesn't have the trust of the business… and they want a CIO to come in and transform them. The problem is, however, that without the idea of culture change, without the trust that this will enable, without the attention to get it done, an organization may get a transformational CIO that might stabilize something, modernize a couple of things, but then move on, because the organization wasn’t there with them. It's that relationship, that two-way trust that enables both to change. A CIO that is effective has to develop and champion others to do the same outside of their portfolio. And to do that, you have to look at maximizing for your outcome.  Meaning, traditional CIO shops, especially security-focused ones, have controls:  you can't do this, you have to do it this way, this is the process, this is the flow, this is the whatever.  But controls themselves don't really do much for a business. The outcome is what matters; the output. How fast can you do something? How fast can you deliver the value of the business? Whether it's manufacturing something if you're in the manufacturing industry, whether it's citizen delivery, whether it's crime reduction. How quickly can you get there? You have to swap that focus from maximizing for control, to maximizing for outcome, and you do that with trust.

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It depends on who you're asking. What I find is often, people ask for a transformational CIO and don't know what they're looking for. I've actually had interviews where people tell me, "Oh, we want this and that, but we don't know why." Those are some of the most dangerous organizations to engage with because they know they're in trouble, they know they're not operating fast enough, they know IT doesn't have the trust of the business… and they want a CIO to come in and transform them. The problem is, however, that without the idea of culture change, without the trust that this will enable, without the attention to get it done, an organization may get a transformational CIO that might stabilize something, modernize a couple of things, but then move on, because the organization wasn’t there with them. It's that relationship, that two-way trust that enables both to change. A CIO that is effective has to develop and champion others to do the same outside of their portfolio. And to do that, you have to look at maximizing for your outcome.  Meaning, traditional CIO shops, especially security-focused ones, have controls:  you can't do this, you have to do it this way, this is the process, this is the flow, this is the whatever.  But controls themselves don't really do much for a business. The outcome is what matters; the output. How fast can you do something? How fast can you deliver the value of the business? Whether it's manufacturing something if you're in the manufacturing industry, whether it's citizen delivery, whether it's crime reduction. How quickly can you get there? You have to swap that focus from maximizing for control, to maximizing for outcome, and you do that with trust.
1 upvotes