Some of you might have taken the opportunity provided by the beginning of a new calendar year to make a series of well-meaning resolutions and commitments – both personal and professional – concerning how you intend to tackle 2017.
As a tangent to the more traditional New Year’s Resolution but keeping with its spirit, here is a brief and extremely non-exhaustive January checklist for CIOs and business leaders to ensure 2017 starts on the right track.
1. Go back to your mission statement
In his book Digital Uncovered, Ian Cox wrote that the often-maligned, sometimes worthless and occasionally meaningless company mission statement can act as a catalyst for innovative thinking. As long as the mission statement is well-crafted, focuses on the needs of the customer with an outside-in approach and neatly surmises an organisation’s main purpose, it can be a powerful tool to inspire teams to think about the best ways to fulfil its purpose.
Noted by NHS Blood and Transplant Chief Digital Officer Aaron Powell as a key weapon when pitching ideas – technological or otherwise – to a CEO or board, think about how the CIO role and its function can go about living the mission of the company, or even consider if technology and IT needs its own mission statement and identity?
2. Solve one of your CEO’s biggest problems
At the Gartner Symposium in Barcelona in November 2016, analyst and research director Mark Raskino suggested that CIOs had the opportunity to become a key ally to the CEO and lead their organisation on the digital journey.
Raskino suggested asking your CEO about their top three business priorities over the coming two years. For each of the three, the CIO should find out what the top-two obstacles, impediments or challenges are to the company reaching each of the business objectives, and generate one new tech-related solution or idea for each hurdle. Et voila!
3. Take part in the CIO 100
High-performing teams celebrate success and find time to reflect on successful delivery. In recent years a number of CIOs have mentioned how stimulating, enjoyable and even cathartic they have found the CIO 100 process, from reflecting on the achievements of their organisations, completing a CIO 100 submission and coming to the celebration evening to toast their roles with other CIOs, CTOs and IT directors.
More information about the 2017 CIO 100 is here if you would like to participate and showcase your organisation and network with your peers.
4. Take a step outside of IT
CIOs will always need some level of technological expertise, but increasing levels of noise are being made about the importance of taking a small step away from the IT function, being business leaders first and foremost with an appropriate level of technology and nous.
Many CIOs noted in the 2016 CIO 100 how they walk the proverbial shop floor, both internally and externally, to ensure they are in the loop about problems facing customers and employees.
5. Become a diversity champion and make diversity a priority
Please forgive the somewhat deliberate provocation, but in the absence of evidence suggesting having a Y chromosome and a relative lack of melanin makes certain people genetically superior, there must be other factors at play as to why our society, institutions, organisations and leadership roles – technology and the CIO function included – are lacking in diversity.
A diverse team and organisation is a competitive advantage, and CIOs are in a privileged leadership position to become diversity champions and create more diverse and healthy companies and institutions.
Make 2017 the year you proactively call out discrimination, unconscious bias, the lack of gender and racial equality at technology conferences and in your company, and are subsequently held up as a champion of diversity in the technology sector while improving the performance of your organisation. Embed diversity and inclusivity in all aspects of the business and decision-making process, not as a bolt-on agenda, set of platitudes or one-day hackathon.
Burberry CIO Fumbi Chimaand Global Radio Director of Technology & Operations David Henderson have covered how CIOs can develop diversity in the tech sector and your IT departments. Diversity problems can be solved, it just takes commitment; the expertise of Chima and Henderson are good starting points.