How should CIOs position themselves among the C-suite?

Top Answer : My experience has shown that the CIO can play an incredibly valuable role in an organization, however what is important right up front is how you think, not what you think. It's how we think about the world and dare I say that raising consciousness is going to be an important contributor. The CIO in fact wears many hats and can play a number of roles at any point in time. The important thing for me is that you’re able to think critically about just the facts or technical details while worrying more broadly about the emotions and the benefits associated with the decisions that you need to make. You have this extraordinary opportunity to adopt the thinking associated with De Bono’s various thinking hats. The flip side though is that at some point in time, you become slightly schizophrenic in the sense of not knowing which hat you're meant to be wearing.  Not only can you become confused because you're wearing so many hats, you need to be very close to the senior leadership team and that requires skill in navigating corporate politics, while simultaneously cultivating relationships with the CEO, CFO, CMO, and the rest of the executive team. A word of advice is take your lead from the top and morph yourself or reactions to model theirs. Join the club. Furthermore, the CIO’s role is to bridge the gap in terms of the confusion between the business strategy goals that the CEO is trying to achieve and adoption of appropriate enabling technologies represented by the technology curve. The technology curve is sitting significantly in front of the business today, and business certainly finds it very difficult to prioritise which technologies to consume when. By consuming or adopting the appropriate technology at the right time in the right areas of maximum impact the organization will or should see value drivers trending upwards. So if I were to say, "I want to get a 10x value multiple on a particular technology stream," I'm going to need to concentrate my effort in interpreting or aligning with those specific business drivers. First you identify what role IT plays in the business strategy eg: the alignment process. Secondly, we can now develop solutions beginning with the ideation process, prototyping as fast as possible and hopefully make incremental gains. Gone are the long term large IT project timelines and associated budgets. IT simply does not have time or budget on their side. From the above it’s clear that technology selection can be your and the business’ largest achilles heel. Without knowing what value you’re trying to create, all the traditional elements of meeting the budget, within the timeframe and delivering the functional specification could be for naught. Some call this the value gap or diffusion of innovation gap. Simply put: “How do I orchestrate and exceed business outcomes using in many instances disruptive technology in such a way that my intention aligns with the envisaged results?” At the same time the CIO is changing his techno speak to business speak, they simultaneously have to stay on top of disruptive digital technology trends. Digital transformation is not one specific “silver bullet” but rather multiple endeavours stretching across the entire value chain of an organization. And the CIO needs to keep on top of these. As mentioned previously, becoming the conductor of this intricate orchestra means acknowledging your instrument players are located throughout the organization. For the CIO to really be able to create the harmonics that you're looking for, you need to make sure that the placement of those instruments, in other words all that technology, is located appropriately. Above that, you need to have the relevant “musical” score so that you're all singing off the same hymn sheet, as it were. And further, when you play a particular score, you need to play everything in sequence or synchronistically in order to create the harmonics that you're looking for.

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My experience has shown that the CIO can play an incredibly valuable role in an organization, however what is important right up front is how you think, not what you think. It's how we think about the world and dare I say that raising consciousness is going to be an important contributor. The CIO in fact wears many hats and can play a number of roles at any point in time. The important thing for me is that you’re able to think critically about just the facts or technical details while worrying more broadly about the emotions and the benefits associated with the decisions that you need to make. You have this extraordinary opportunity to adopt the thinking associated with De Bono’s various thinking hats. The flip side though is that at some point in time, you become slightly schizophrenic in the sense of not knowing which hat you're meant to be wearing.  Not only can you become confused because you're wearing so many hats, you need to be very close to the senior leadership team and that requires skill in navigating corporate politics, while simultaneously cultivating relationships with the CEO, CFO, CMO, and the rest of the executive team. A word of advice is take your lead from the top and morph yourself or reactions to model theirs. Join the club. Furthermore, the CIO’s role is to bridge the gap in terms of the confusion between the business strategy goals that the CEO is trying to achieve and adoption of appropriate enabling technologies represented by the technology curve. The technology curve is sitting significantly in front of the business today, and business certainly finds it very difficult to prioritise which technologies to consume when. By consuming or adopting the appropriate technology at the right time in the right areas of maximum impact the organization will or should see value drivers trending upwards. So if I were to say, "I want to get a 10x value multiple on a particular technology stream," I'm going to need to concentrate my effort in interpreting or aligning with those specific business drivers. First you identify what role IT plays in the business strategy eg: the alignment process. Secondly, we can now develop solutions beginning with the ideation process, prototyping as fast as possible and hopefully make incremental gains. Gone are the long term large IT project timelines and associated budgets. IT simply does not have time or budget on their side. From the above it’s clear that technology selection can be your and the business’ largest achilles heel. Without knowing what value you’re trying to create, all the traditional elements of meeting the budget, within the timeframe and delivering the functional specification could be for naught. Some call this the value gap or diffusion of innovation gap. Simply put: “How do I orchestrate and exceed business outcomes using in many instances disruptive technology in such a way that my intention aligns with the envisaged results?” At the same time the CIO is changing his techno speak to business speak, they simultaneously have to stay on top of disruptive digital technology trends. Digital transformation is not one specific “silver bullet” but rather multiple endeavours stretching across the entire value chain of an organization. And the CIO needs to keep on top of these. As mentioned previously, becoming the conductor of this intricate orchestra means acknowledging your instrument players are located throughout the organization. For the CIO to really be able to create the harmonics that you're looking for, you need to make sure that the placement of those instruments, in other words all that technology, is located appropriately. Above that, you need to have the relevant “musical” score so that you're all singing off the same hymn sheet, as it were. And further, when you play a particular score, you need to play everything in sequence or synchronistically in order to create the harmonics that you're looking for.
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