‘Find time to daydream, go on a digital detox’

Daydreaming can lead to myriad creative outcomes, because the brain, when seemingly at rest, can make connections between apparently disparate areas, leading to new ideas

Some people may find the idea of New Year’s resolutions rather hokey.

“Either way, a little introspection and personal development is usually a good idea. We think it is particularly valuable for CIOs - because the role is changing and evolving,” note Gartner analysts Mark Raskino, Mary Mesaglio and Tina Nunno.

The three are authors of the CIO New Year’s Resolutions, 2019 and they point to the need for CIOs to be fitter for a raft of challenges this year.

The list, framed as resolutions, centres on changing the culture of the organisation.

To strengthen their capabilities in digital leadership and business transformation, CIOs should adopt three or four of these 10 personal development resolutions in 2019, says Gartner

Most organisations are no longer struggling to get started with digital business, they are finding it hard to scale, the authors point out. Meanwhile, challenging economic conditions could make progress harder.

The three authors say both CIOs and CEOs state that cultural barriers are the toughest hurdles.

“As a CIO, you need to work on your own ability to think differently and catalyse and lead cultural change,” they state.

Focus is important so no CIO should attempt all 10 resolutions.

Discuss these ideas with a colleague, friend and mentor and picking three or four to tackle over the next year, they state. Then, review your progress mid-year and then redouble the effort.

A focus of the report is the need for CIOs to reset the way they think.

First step is to break from IT budget thinking.

Stop talking about the IT budget and start talking about business profit and loss, they state.

CEOs associate digital growth with revenue growth, but IT is often measured on costs. Define contribution metrics, not just cost, and budget conditionally on projects.

One way to do this is to select a single top-level digital KPI.

As a CIO, you need to work on your own ability to think differently

Usually, the most successful digital KPIs for private-sector organisations are connected with sales. In the public sector, a digital KPI that shows adoption rates, say how many people have adopted a new digital public service, is compelling, they write.

The Gartner analysts also call on CIOs to lead with neuroscience insight.

Behavioral neuroscience is the study of how the brain affects behaviour. It can be a powerful tool for those looking for cultural change. For most executives, though, behavioural neuroscience is mostly overlooked and underused.

Thus, Gartner advises CIOs to over the next year resolve to learn more about how and why we do the things we do mdash; and to use those findings to be a better leader.

Take a class on neuroscience for executives or have your whole team attend and commit to improving the team’s brain health, they state. Some of these courses are MIT’s Neuroscience for Leadership course, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business’ Leveraging Neuroscience for Business Impact, and closer to home, Macquarie University’s The Neuroscience of Leadership and Performance. Neuroscience courses can also be found in Coursera.

“Find time to daydream,” they advise.

The brain’s default network, also known as the imagination network, kicks into gear when you are not focused on any particular outside stimuli, they point out.

“Daydreaming can lead to myriad creative outcomes, because the brain, when seemingly at rest, can make connections between apparently disparate areas, leading to new ideas.”

Related article: How a day off from the office for an 'immersion' will refresh the CIO’s view of the organisation and generate new ideas for innovation

Another activity in the CIO’s to do list is to go on a digital detox.

This is a commitment to refrain from using smartphones and/or computers and tablets for a designated period of time.

During this detox period, separate your phone from your camera, music source and reading device. Have a standalone camera, read a physical book and dust off your old CDs.

Separating phone usage from other activities like reading, snapping photos and listening to music makes it much easier to detox, they write.

A detox mentor can be assigned to support you when you’re feeling a particular desire to use digital media. The mentor can also provide a means for you to have direct contact with your loved ones.

“This way you know that if something really serious occurs, you are contactable,” they state. Knowing there is a way to contact you in case of a real need reduces the anxiety of disconnecting from digital media.

The effects of a digital detox can be extended by turning off automatic notifications. This way, you can regain some measure of control over what is and isn’t justifiable interruption.

Another way is to designate certain meetings as digital device free. Ask participants to leave all devices in a basket or locker outside the room.

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“Invert connection and disconnection time,” they further advise. “Instead of designating time to be device-free, designate time to connect and remain disconnected for the rest.”

As in previous years, Gartner ends the annual list with this resolution: “Make time to directly experience a variety of new technologies.”

There are many new technologies CIOs can assess by reading, or by delegating evaluation to their teams. But there are some experiential technologies that they just have to see and touch to truly 'get' mdash; especially if they are in new categories, the report states.

Some examples include autonomous mobile robots, foldable mobile screens, deepfake technology and CubeSat (Space is becoming “democratised”, says Gartner. “The costs of creating a 10x10x10 cm CubeSat are shrinking fast. What digital sensing could you cram into such a package, and what could you do with the data it gathers?”).

When it comes to deepfake technology, the authors advise: “Think carefully and bring your CISO before you do your research into this murky area of fake videos and images of real people in fictional situations. How might it change content economics and identity fraud?”

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