tagged with: Leadership

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Burn Your Communication Plan

We all know how hard change can be. Whether we like to admit it or not, every one of us performs at least some parts of our jobs on auto-pilot; it's more efficient for our brains to operate that way. That makes it hard to do things differently.

When leaders introduce a significant change without a lot of communication around what will be different, why it's happening (including connecting it to something that matters to each member of the team), and how the change will unfold, they shoot themselves in the foot. They inevitably encounter a lot of friction if not downright resistance to the change. In the best case, this slows things down. In the worst, this has led to multi-million dollar failures.

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Who’s Leading Digital?

The chief digital officer was the third most in-demand C-level position this year, according to executive search firm Korn Ferry. The rise of the chief digital officer (CDO) reflects the disruption being felt across industries from digital transformation and the impact this is having on organizations' business models. Well over half of respondents to a recent survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services say their organization's business model will be radically different in three years. These changes don't just happen; they need to be led.

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Have CIOs Failed?

I have to admit it — I'm baffled. In all the research I've done in the past year, business leaders again and again say they believe the CIO is the right person to lead digital innovation. And yet, again and again, there's a gap between where everyone — CIOs and their business partners included — think the CIO should be and where they actually are. CIOs just can't seem to break out of the technology service provider role.

In the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services study, "Business Transformation and the CIO Role," 94% of respondents said CIOs would add the most value to the business by either leading business technology transformation or, even better, leading IT-driven business innovation and strategy. Only 6% voted for the CIO to focus on running the IT function to support business operations. And yet the vast majority — 70% — said that's exactly where the CIO spends his or her time.

I've also had a number of conversations lately with strategic CIOs who view their role as helping their business leverage information — they frame the digital opportunity in that context. Sure, they need technology to do that, but that's not where the value lies or how they define their role.

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Digital Leadership and the Cloud: Video Highlights

I just had my first highlights reel made and I'm pretty excited. I delivered the opening keynote at the Oracle Cloud World conference in Boston in December 2014. Oracle did a great job filming it in the first place, and my friend the very talented videographer Craig Kimberley at Skyprop Media did a great job editing it down to a couple of minutes. This shows both my onstage work and the kinds of (very visual) slides that I create. I hope you like it!

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CIOs Should Lead Digital Transformation

I've saved the best for last in this series of posts on responsive IT. In our survey of 750 business and technology leaders (around 200 from IT and the remaining 550 from other parts of the business), 42% of respondents believe the CIO is the best suited member of the C-suite to lead digital transformation. (Yes, I know this term has become overused, but this is what we're talking about, so I'll learn to live with the shame.) That's more than twice as many as chose the CEO (18%). And that number shot up to 64% when we singled out the IT respondents. This is great news for CIOs, right?

Yes, but... when we look at the responses of general managers, things are less clearly defined. While CIOs still lead at 30%, there are also strong votes for the CEO (21%), LOB leader (17%), and COO (15%). This makes sense. As digital business becomes more pervasive, it is absolutely incumbent upon non-IT leaders to understand the opportunities and threats digital represents and to do everything in their power to drive their organization's ability to compete. Some of them are becoming quite astute in this regard. It's also true that even if the CIO is responsible on a day-to-day basis to lead this transformation, not much will happen without a clearly articulated vision from the CEO.

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Digital Innovation and the CIO

Business leaders anticipate dramatic change in all aspects of their operations over the next three years, according to recent research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (you can download a copy of the report I authored, Business Transformation and the CIO Role, at the HBR website). Some companies are accelerating this change by committing to IT-enabled business innovation as a core strategy. To understand just how massive the changes will be, consider this: 70 percent of these “innovation accelerators" (about a third of respondents) expect the ways in which they engage with customers to be transformed in three years, rating it eight or higher on a 10-point change scale. That's right: 70 percent. Transformed. Sixty-four percent anticipate that same degree of change in their products and services, their business models and the ways employees work.

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The Influential CIO Workshop: Slides

Influence: the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command. For most CIOs and their teams, this is the only way to get things done.

Here's an excerpt from my Persuasive Communication and Influence workshop.

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The Influential CIO

This article is based on my Persuasive Communication and Influence workshop.

The CIO role spans and must influence all parts of an organization without directly controlling them. Today's trends — global, mobile, data-driven virtual business — increase the stakes and make CIO influence not only important for the CIO's personal success but for the success of the company as well. This requires skills and competencies that may not come naturally to many IT leaders.

There are two main trends that are driving a shift in power in IT.

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Four Keys to Successful Change

Ever try to get someone to change the way they do something that they've been doing the same way for years? Ever try to break one of your own habits? It's not easy. Not because people are intentionally contrary or obstinate, but because big parts of our brains operate on autopilot, in deep grooves of habit, and establishing new pathways is hard.

This can be a serious problem for individuals or managers who find themselves in the midst of major change efforts.

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How to Survive in a World of Constant Change

About five years, ago, when I was still editor in chief at CIO, we began a major transformation from a print-centric media company to online. During that time, every day brought new challenges, frustrations, discoveries, joy and despair. I think many of us thought we'd power our way through all that turmoil and, eventually, things would get back to "normal." After a couple of years, it began to dawn on us that if there was ever to be a new normal, it was well over the horizon, and in fact, we'd better learn to live in a state of change.