by Valeh Nazemoff

7 Mindful Changes CIOs Can Make in 2015

Jan 28, 20154 mins
CIOIT Leadership

Shift perception of your IT group to that of valued strategic partner - not just a hurdle to be overcome.

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How does the business view your role as CIO? The traditional definition is one who manages information to ensure that his or her organization is technologically operational.

That’s the key word – “operational.” Since CIOs are often viewed as those who keep the systems up and running, they are frequently classified in the “operations” category, and not seen as strategic partners.

The negative perception of today’s CIO

The CIO and his or her team is usually called in after the fact. Once the business unit has made the decision to pursue a new direction (or even worse – made independent technology investments), IT is then called in to make it work.

But why is that? Why doesn’t the business include the CIO to help with key decision making?

The reason is simple – the perception of the CIO and the IT support function is one of disconnect. Typically, the CIO is viewed as “disconnected” from what the business units are trying to achieve. They are not perceived as true partners, and their opinions are sometimes dismissed as irrelevant. IT can be viewed as a “hurdle” to overcome, but this could not be further from the truth.

It’s 2015. In order for businesses to reach the next level, the role of the CIO must change.

Being mindful is something we hear so often these days. Being mindful means to be alert and attentive to the present moment and to be fully engaged in the task at hand.

But, how does mindfulness relate to today’s CIO?

The mindful CIO must shift his or her mindset. He/she must function as a fully engaged “consultant”, getting to the root of his internal “client’s” information and technology needs and remind business leaders that it is the people and process that are optimized by technology – not the other way around.

The CIO needs to emphasize his/her ability and desire to help business units manage their stress levels by tackling data overload and helping them organize and harness it. The CIO should be one of the first people called when taking on a new strategic direction, not one of the last.

After all, the full title of a CIO is “Chief Information Officer,” so he/she needs to truly own the mantle of “Chief” and help people strategically and cost-effectively manage information.

This is not possible unless the CIO has an intimate view of the company’s overarching initiatives and has a seat at the table at a project’s outset. By being involved from the beginning, the opportunity exists for them to demonstrate how technology can help their organization achieve its revenue goals, not just reduce costs and improve daily operations.

7 Ways for the CIO to be Viewed as a Strategic Partner

CIOs have been asking me for tips to make 2015 more effective – and I wanted to share 7 of them with you:

  1. Shift how you view the business units. Rather than looking on them as time drains, look at them as opportunities to help achieve the organization’s business initiatives.
  2. View the executive management team as customers, even if they are internal to the organization. Don’t look at them as employees or colleagues, but as customers to serve.
  3. Become an active business partner and present ideas and solutions. Proactively offer constructive feedback and offer multiple suggestions or paths to solve issues.
  4. Take charge of documentation of data, systems, action items, etc. Remember, as CIO, you are the gatekeeper.
  5. Standardize IT and business definitions across the organization, so that business units and IT are speaking the same language.
  6. Help the business become aware of potential impacts and risks as change occurs. Don’t decide for them, but help them see it. Then jointly decide on the path of direction.
  7. Be innovative – is there technology available to make life easier for the people on the front lines of the business? This applies to both internal (employees) and external (customers).

The way the CIO can change how he/she is perceived internally is to make a conscious decision to change their attitude and actions. By being more mindful, CIOs can take action to powerfully demonstrate their total worth to the organization as a whole.