Finding The Time To Be Strategic

by drjim on February 25, 2015

CIOs know that they need to be strategic, but where is the time?

CIOs know that they need to be strategic, but where is the time?
Image Credit: catd_mitchell

Pick up any IT trade journal and you’ll probably find an article that is telling CIOs that because of the importance of information technology they need to get a seat at the company’s planning table. In order to do this, they need to become more strategic. I think that we can all agree with this idea; however, the real challenge comes when we try to find the time to do this. Our plates are already overflowing with tasks that we have to do. How is a CIO ever going to get good at doing this strategic planning thing?

It’s All About Habits

I hate to have to be the one to share this with you, but the reason that you are not finding the time to be strategic is because you are not making the time to perform this function. In order to fix the problem, you are going to have to make strategic planning a habit.

Although this may sound like a relatively simple thing to do, you may be surprised at just exactly how hard it will turn out to be. As with everything else in our lives, whenever we try to schedule something it seems as though things instantly start to try to push it out of the way. You are going to have to stand firm and make sure that you really take the time to do your strategic planning no matter what else happens.

Time To Meet With Peers

I’m not sure about you, but what do you think that strategic planning really looks like? If you picture yourself alone in a room with a table, a piece of paper, and a pencil, then I think that you might be missing the point. Strategy is all about taking in new ideas, sorting through them, and then picking the ones that will work best for your company.

What this means for you as a CIO is that one of the best ways to engage in strategic planning is to spend time with your peers. Since this may not be something that happens as a normal part of your day, you need to take steps to make it happen. One way to do this is to host an IT summit that brings together IT professionals from your company and other firms. Just by allowing this interaction to occur, you’ll be able to exchange ideas and you’ll discover that strategic planning is happening.

What All Of This Means For You

Strategic planning is a very important part of the CIO job. However, one of the biggest challenges that we face every day is that there never seems to be enough time to fit this important task into our routine. What we need here are some suggestions on how to make time to do this.

One great way to go about doing it is to schedule it. Book time for you to do your strategic planning just like you would any other meeting that you go to. This way you’ll be able to make sure that it gets done each week. Alternatively, you can host IT summits where you invite IT team members and others in the industry to attend. The exchange of ideas and opportunity to meet and talk with other IT professionals will provide you with a unique opportunity to do your strategic planning.

The good news is that yes, as the person in the CIO position, you can find the time to do your strategic planning tasks. However, it’s not going to happen unless you make an effort. Start today and you’ll be impressed by just how strategic you can become!

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How much time each week do you think that you should spend on strategic planning?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So just exactly what is a business process? In a nutshell, it’s how your company does business. Now this might sound rather simple to you, but it turns out that most of the business processes that our firms use to do business are complicated multi-step beasts and are increasingly dependent on the importance of information technology.. The arrival of everyday mobile devices has had a major impact on how firms perform their business processes. As the person with the CIO job, it’s going to be up to you to help map mobile apps into the company’s existing business processes.

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CIOs Need To Learn How To Manage Digital Cowboys

by drjim on February 18, 2015

Digital cowboys are the next CIO management challenge

Digital cowboys are the next CIO management challenge
Image Credit: anyjazz65

In the modern IT department, CIOs are called upon to perform many different tasks. I believe that we can all agree that one of the most important of these tasks is managing and mentoring the next generation of IT leaders. Today’s new arrivals seem to be so different from when we joined the firm that a lot of us simply don’t know where to start when it comes to showing them the way.

It’s All About Social Skills

The consultant Pekka Viljakainen is the one who came up with the term “Digital Cowboys” to describe the young people who are joining our IT departments these days. I personally think that it does a good job of describing what we are working with as CIOs: young people who are very, very comfortable with digital technology.

Pekka makes the point that social media is where this new generation of IT workers live. What this means for us as the person with the CIO job is that we need to change how we manage our staff. We are going to have to take the time to discover how we can lead our teams socially.

When young people join our departments we generally put them in low level positions where they may have contact with our end customers in a support role. What this means for us is that we are going to have to start to use the social tools that are going to put us in contact with this part of our company. If we do this correctly, then we’ll be able to have a sense of what is going on in the company from those working on the front lines.

What Do CIOs Need To Do Better?

Getting better at using social media is only one part of a much bigger story. As a CIO you are going to want to be able to attract the best people to join your IT department and this is not going to be an easy thing to do. Your top-tier IT talent is going to have a number of different options and your department is just going to be one of them. How you manage your staff will have a direct role on your ability to attract the best talent.

Ultimately what you are going to have to get good at doing is leading your department. This may sound like fairly basic advice; however, you need to keep in mind that you’re not going to be able to lead anyone who doesn’t want to follow you.

What this means for you is that you’re going to need to discover what it will take to get these digital cowboys to follow you as their CIO. The answer, as always, is complicated. This generation of IT workers is going to be willing to follow you if you are able to find ways to add value to them. They’ll be willing to follow you if that by doing so they will become better or if they think that you are going to be in charge of the winning team. What this means is that you’re going to find yourself playing less of a role of a CIO and more of a role of a coach to these workers.

What Does All Of This Mean For Us?

How the person in the CIO position led the last generation of new recruits is vastly different from how today’s recruits want to be lead. The importance of information technology means that it’s going to be up to you to find ways to connect with, motivate, and lead this crop of new recruits.

Ultimately this comes down to you changing your leadership style. You are going to have to connect with your new team members in the way that they want to be connected with. This means that you are going to have to embrace social media. Use this as a tool to get your message across, not just to look “cool”. You are also going to have to find ways to make your department’s latest additions want to be led. You can make this happen if they see you as providing value to them.

Leadership and mentoring is never easy to do. However, when a CIO is trying to provide these skills to the next generation of IT workers, it sure seems to get harder because they appear to be so different from us. Take the time to use the social media tools that are now at your fingertips to make connections with your workers. Additionally, take the time to find ways to make them want to be led by you.

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What steps can a CIO take in order to make the next generation of IT workers want to be led by them?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Pick up any IT trade journal and you’ll probably find an article that is telling CIOs that because of the importance of information technology they need to get a seat at the company’s planning table. In order to do this, they need to become more strategic. I think that we can all agree with this idea; however, the real challenge comes when we try to find the time to do this. Our plates are already overflowing with tasks that we have to do. How is a CIO ever going to get good at doing this strategic planning thing?

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