Top CIO issues persist because they aren’t CIO issues at all. They are business and People issues that involve every business area.
- Talent Issues
- Speed to Market
- Productivity and Experience
- Cost Reduction / Controls (IT related and Business Related)
- Agility & Flexibility
A few ideas here to share..
Trust your team
If you knew everything you think you know, you wouldn’t be in the role you are in right now. You would be somewhere else doing something else living the life of legacy. Many leaders in these roles are hard to approach. They don’t trust people inside their organization and they look for technical and business competency in other organizations or consultants. They also think they are smarter and know more than they actually do.
Take the toilet as an example. As a thought experiment, would you be able to explain to someone else how a toilet works? Most people can’t. Oh, I know toilets aren’t IT systems. Right they are just simple toilets. There is a good chance as a reader that you actually don’t know how the toilet that you use every day works. Point here is.. A business is run on collective organizational intelligence. You are as smart as those that inform you and keep you up on knowledge and “in the know.”
If you trust your team, there is a very good change that they will tell you about the real problems in the organization. They will tell you when they don’t know how to do something instead of doing all the guess work.
Stop Looking Outside
Hey, I get it.. you need IA, AI, RPA, RPA(I), Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud, smarter systems, faster, faster, faster. The board wants… The CEO says.. The market is ..
All of that is bologna.
Sure, we need to bring in outside expertise to do work. Every company needs help and trusted partners. The difference is that many leaders are always looking for answers outside. They aren’t taking the time to learn about what they know inside. They discount what they have in their own organizational intelligence. They don’t listen. Just think, in many cases you trust a stranger to tell you something that you wouldn’t trust a person that you vetted and hired to tell you.
Become Aware and Be Available
I get frustrated when leaders tell me they “can’t find the talent” or there is a “war for talent” and the market is so empty of people that have the right skills we need. We have to pay so much to get help and these people are so rare. Then when we find them, we lose them..
Yeah.. BOLOGNA. Here is your problem. You don’t know who you have in your company. Your expert location system is broken .. mostly because you don’t actually have an expert location system. You may have profiles but they aren’t up to date. Job descriptions aren’t up to date. There is a very good chance that you have very little idea on what people inside your org can do. On top of that, due to cost cutting, you had to “let people go.” You could have just let go the best data scientist you had go but didn’t know it. Many times, companies cut people and it costs 3x to get someone in to do the job. This is what happens. HR doesn’t help because they really don’t know. They are just pushing around the excel sheets with the names on them. They can tell you about legal risks but they can’t tell you about the people individually. They can tell you what to say and what rules to follow but they don’t tell you or encourage you to take the time to understand what the heck is really going on.
The answer is “Show Up” and I don’t mean that you personally have to show up every time but start teaching your team what that means. You have to lead by example. The reason people leave is because of their leadership. The reason people leave is because they are frustrated. Money doesn’t fix that. Learn about being available and learn about finding ways to both technically and organizationally instill practices to discover the people in your organization. Many tools available don’t cost a penny. (Ask me how)
Introduce Change Management and Knowledge Management
Awareness in knowing that we don’t know is the first step. The Dunning-Kruger effect: the unskilled just don’t know what they don’t know. This matters, because all of us are unskilled in most domains of our lives.
We need to learn and practice Knowledge Management. If you want to learn more about KM (Here is a book by one of the best KM folks around) https://lucidea.com/get-your-copy-of-proven-practices/
The book doesn’t cost anything.. but .. if that is too much .. You can learn somethings from http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2017/07/the-cko-of-microsoft-services-has-a-surprising-perspective-on-knowledge-management.html
The underlying idea and premise is that we all should be able to discover (FIND) the best information and knowledge when we need it and where we need it to do what we need to do. “The right information, at the right time, in the right context.”
If you don’t make the time to learn about these things, they will happen to you as opposed to you making them happen. There are plenty of free change management resources out there. There are practices that are proven as well. Frankly, the first step is realizing that you need bring these concepts into your life. You need to learn about them and what they mean. If you don’t.. then you will continue to go the conferences with the same problems year after year. Listening to vendors, contractors and consultants advise you in 3 slides how they have solved all these problems for your competition and that YOU are behind.
Simplify by Allowing for Complication
Your child is getting ready for a heart transplant and you ask the doctor about the procedure. How long will it take? What do I need to worry about? What are the risks? Many questions. What if the doctor says “Don’t worry, I just read 3 slides and brought in a sub to take care of it.” They have a process call prime, pull, press and progress. They will come in and do some things that are really complicated and then the person (insert name here) will be ready for shipment.. or recovery.
You wouldn’t tolerate that. You would be outraged but in business, this is what folks do. We simplify very complicated concepts and we don’t seek to learn. Let me be clear, I am not saying that you should know all the math involved with Alexa but I am saying you should understand what the heck is really going on and/or have advocates on your behalf that do. How do you deal with this? How do you solve for x? Invest in training. Allow for people to admit they don’t know and accept that they don’t know. Allow for people to address complicated issues and concepts with more than 3 slides. Allow for people to teach and encourage organizational learning and education. Have people train each other and upskill. Invest in current employee cross training.
I Wrote Too Much
If you are here now, statistically speaking you are a rarity. Why because I wrote too much and I bored the heck out of people by the third sentence. This is why there is a problem. If people aren’t fed snippets of information in micro-transactions, they get frustrated and move on. Unless of course it is caustic or negative or something we should argue about. If we are going to solve the top challenges for a CIO or other leaders, we really need straight talk on these issues. If not, the people that “get it” will “have it” all!