What to do when the CIO still doesn’t “Get it”?

Clueless CIO
I was asked this question twice last year as a keynote speaker, one time by Chief Data Officers and the other by millenials working in marketing and other digital roles. Their sentiment was that their CIO was too slow to implement modernized digital platforms, hadn't instrumented collaborative practices, or was just perceived as a "no person" when presented with new ideas and needs.

Here's one of my answers and it comes from my book, Driving Digital: The Leader's Guide to Business Transformation Through Technology

If you are a technology leader and didn’t do some of these things, chances are you were replaced or will be soon. You will be disintermediated by spending too much effort just keeping the lights on instead of driving change or by being the business steward on risk instead of being a solution provider.

In the book, I provide more substance on what there things are and they include partnering with marketing on lead generation, leading data governance programs. and establishing agile development practices.

The people asking the question already had their answers. Some with more senior roles do their best to work around the CIO and IT to get what they need. Some of the millenials in the group seek out leaders and mentors who are willing to challenge the status quo and try to join their teams and programs. Those less empowered are more likely to put in their time, then look to leave and join more progressive organizations.

None of these options are very good for the organization or for the CIO. It demonstrates an underground movement of people capable of doing more, stifled without the support, and either working around it or working to leave it.

To my fellow CIO and IT leaders


Your world is bigger and faster than it ever was with new impacting technologies, faster practices, more significant strategic opportunities for technology driven change, and certainly more threats. You are being asked to do more with less, to grow the portfolio even though the legacy is shrinking slower, and to be an expert in all technology things climbing the Gartner Hype Cycle.

My simple advice is to get help.

StarCIO Implement Digital Strategy
You can't be an expert at everything, but you can bring in the help to accelerate your organization. If your slow to adopt agile practices, get help from coaches. If your data landscape looks like a landfill, then bring in experts that can kickoff data governance, consolidate data platforms, or automate data pipelines. If you don't have the funding to implement change, get help from technical financial analysts who can review vendors, assets, and workflows for cost optimizations.

Then, go out and work with both leaders and staff. Listen, listen some more, and learn. Go visit customers the big, the small, the happy, and the unsatisfied. Better yet, go visit those that are no longer customers or ones that have elected to work with a competitor. 

Then formulate how you can either lead or participate in your organization's transformation programs.

This is the final article of a multi-part series on What I Learned about Digital Transformation from Speaking to Hundreds of Leaders. You can read the previous articles on If data is the new oil, we’re still digging wells"We are more successful onboarding new technology versus maturing it"Financial Practices are Outdated for the Transformation Era - (And here's what you can do about it),  Developing a Strategy for Putting People First in Transformation Programs and We are doing agile but are not AgileSign up for my newsletter for even greater insights!

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