Resources CIOs in Australia

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“For us, nothing is off the table,” Forte says. “We don’t go into anything with a view that we’re going to do it in a traditional style.”

Forte’s signature reads simply: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

Delivering operational efficiencies with the help of technology is always good, Forte says, but he gets a “bigger bang for the buck” from fostering innovative thinking among the IT team.

“We often underestimate the value that good, experienced technology people bring in terms of asking odd questions,” he says.

“There are things that people take for granted, and sometimes you have to stand back and ask: Why have we always done it that way? Is there an operational reason that we need to see 50 things on a screen? Can we use exception reporting and threshold management and those sorts of things, which have been standard practice in IT for many years?”

At the bottom of his emails, Forte’s signature reads simply: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. It’s no mere whimsy — the slogan underpins Forte’s every move as CIO. “It is absolutely true,” he says. “Irrespective of how big and how fancy your strategies are, the ability to execute and the ability of your people to achieve outcomes is the most important thing.”

As an example, Forte recounts his dealings with vendor representatives, who often come into his office expecting to encounter a conservative mindset. “I tell them upfront: Do not think you have to come in here and think conservative, risk averse and all the rest of it,” he says.

“I say: We do not have an environment here where people aren’t prepared to change. People here are clamouring for change and improvement — do not let yourself become the barrier.”

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Security vs. innovation: IT's trickiest balancing act