Top CIOs Are 'Chief Integration Officers'

It’s time to capitalize on the power of connecting organizational silos and stakeholders, says columnist Jack Bergstrand. He offers three steps to get there.

One key skill that truly great CIOs have learned is how to successfully navigate and integrate organizational differences to keep key stakeholders in agreement and heading in the same direction. In other words, they become chief integration officers. It's a skill that can turn disorganized IT organizations into strategic weapons.

When IT functions began decades ago, they were somewhat self-contained and isolated. Today, the reverse is true. Now everyone needs IT, including customers, partners, suppliers, internal corporate functions and field operations.

Yet only the best CIOs have so far successfully led the charge for organizational integration. When CIOs let someone else lead this integration, it often spells disaster for them and their departments because it perpetuates the perception that business-IT alignment remains a problem.

Leading organizational integration and turning it into a personal and functional advantage isn't hard, but it does require practice. To succeed, you must master these three key skills.

1. Don't look at the company through an IT lens. Rather, look at IT through a business lens. Start by internalizing your company's strategy, learning how key people are measured, and identifying the areas where the business is under the most competitive pressure. After you've gathered this important information, then you can think about the role of technology.

Success requires CIOs to make the transition from being merely good managers to being good leaders. Legendary author, consultant and educator Peter Drucker wrote that management is about doing things right, but leadership is about doing the right things. This insight is what makes the best CIOs better than the rest.

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