1) Understand the business strategy
What are the organizations hot buttons and why are they there. To do this, you’ll need to reach out (if you don’t meet with people you can’t understand them). Once you’re there you need to actually pay attention. It is amazing what people will tell you when you actually listen to what they mean not just what they say. Look for conflict. Where there is conflict, there is an opportunity to innovate.
2) Have a vision
Don’t just respond to the situations of the day. Set direction – yet be flexible. There are always situations that defy the rules. Look for anomalies, because unique is where the value is. Everything that is not unique, but normal -- strive to automate. It takes out variability and allows the people to focus on maximizing value from those unique situations.
3) Understand architecture
There are many dimensions to architecture that can be easily assumed or overlooked. It is not just the technical side of architecture, but the business structures they need to support that need to be understood. For example security, whether it is cloud, BYOD or analytics. The security implications and pressures can be quite different so an architectural approach needs to be flexible. The same can be said about the data issues – especially when thinking about BYOD and similar approaches.
Closely related to the planning side of architecture is the portfolio of services used by the enterprise. The existing environment is a constraint on both the flexibility and spending to address the future. Make sure every system/service has an owner. Why be constrained by something that no one cares about any more. These things can build up overtime – like weeds. It’s good to thin them out on a regular basis, and that is where the governance side of architecture comes into play.
4) Understand your options
CIO’s today have more options than they may realize. We live in a world of abundant IT capabilities and possibilities. There are new tools available like:
- Social techniques
- Service based approaches (XaaS) and outsourcing of whole business processes.
Just because you’ve never done it before doesn’t mean that now is not the time.
5) With all this information be sure you make a plan
Once you have the plan, be sure to communicate it to the business and your teams. This will empower them to support the effort as well as reduce confusion and inertia. In order to be a leader, you must have followers and communications is key.
The CIO can help move the organization forward and increase value to whole new levels but only if they move away from the status quo. I recorded a video of these points and if I get my hands on it (and its good) I'll place it on the blog.