by Divina Paredes

‘Drop dead weight, think analogue’: The modern CIO’s New Year resolutions

Jan 12, 2020
C-SuiteCareersInternet of Things

Before CIOs can take on anything new for the coming year, it is helpful to clear out mental and physical space to make room, advises Gartner.

As the analyst firm points out in its 2020 CIO Resolutions report, however, this can be a challenge for today’s technology and digital leaders.

Despite increasing IT budgets, many IT departments are underfunded as requests for IT outstrip budgets, note Gartner analysts and authors of the report Mark Raskino, Mary Mesaglio, and Tina Nunno. 

“The pressure to do more with less, or to simply do more, can lead to significant physical and mental fatigue,” they write.

“CIOs should resolve to create an environment where both they and their departments can eliminate mental dead weight and start the new year energised.”

Their recommendation? Drop dead weight or do away with stuff that drain or add little value.

One way is to empty the office and return only items that CIOs feel positive about.

“Rearrange the room for a fresh perspective,” they state.

The whole IT department can also schedule a decluttering day.

They also advise deleting the backlog of initiatives that have been weighing the department, as well as clearing out policies, processes, or procedures that do not add value.

This way, CIOs can “start fresh with a forward-looking plan.”

The authors of the report also call for an end to the CIO’s “open-door policy”.

“Those who take advantage of an open office door are not always the ones a CIO most needs to see,” they note. 

Instead, CIOs should make themselves available to “strategic invitees” or high performers from different levels and departments.

‘Delegate, empower, and enable your leadership team to field the other walk-up visitors,” they stress.

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Slow, not fast thinking

One of their top advice for CIOs is to “think analogue”.

“Slow thinking, not fast thinking, conquers complex problems and finds original solutions,” they point out. “Your mind needs help to work harder and think more substantively. Sometimes, less rigid, slower, and more physical thinking tools help.”

Remember the fountain pen? “Use it to draft four or five culture-shifting phrases to frequently repeat in the coming year,” they state. 

Sometimes, less rigid, slower and more physical thinking tools help

CIOs are advised to use top quality writing paper and write these words like a calligrapher to create highly memorable aphorisms.

Another approach is to use the entire office wall as a “thinking space”, with details of their plans for 2020. 

This is a common practice among digital giants and start-ups, reports Gartner.

They also advise to “design your next organisation in LEGO.”

Get a large baseplate and a box of mini figures. The latter will represent the “metaphorical construction workers, divers and superheroes” in the organisation.

As in previous years, Gartner ends with this perennial resolution – to make time to directly experience new technologies.

These could range from everyday Internet of Things (IoT) products, to low-code platforms that empower “citizen developers” in the organisation, as well as emerging technologies that are specific to their respective industries.

Such is important because amidst the busy and shifting role of today’s CIOs, they are also expected to spark futuristic business deals and share insights on significant emerging technologies, concludes Gartner.

Lego building blocks