What discipline should CIO master to drive transformation?

Several years ago, I was in a forum where a CIO I deeply respect admitted to me that the hardest thing for him to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis was manage his time. Time was his biggest issue? Not a demanding CEO? Not firefighting the latest operational issue? Not trying trying to get a team to align on priorities or technical strategy? We all have struggles managing our time and we've all found a mix of tools and practices to help us manage it. Why was this such a struggle?

So now years later, I think about this issue because it's not really a question about time management and more about leadership. It's a question about where are you going to invest the most leadership clout, emphasis when addressing an audience, and attention to detail because (a) it's important to drive transformation and (b) you have the skill and opportunity to advance the agenda.

How are you investing your time and leadership clout?

To help understand this, I developed this simple six question survey. If you're a CIO, CTO, CDO or report to one, I hope you'll consider investing five minutes and I guarantee you'll rethink your priorities as you answer these questions. Are you spending sufficient time with non-technical staff on change management activities? When you're investing time on technologies that enable digital transformation, are you spending more effort on emerging technologies like blockchain or artificial intelligence, or are you equally investing time on internal practices and technologies?

Here's a relative, non-scientific breakdown of my time. I tend to work in businesses that have significant customer facing application so no surprise that product development and data science program require significant attention. It may be surprising that I spend more time with the leadership team than the technology staff, but when you consider the effort required to organize, gain agreement, and set a course on digital transformation it may make more sense. Why is operations and security so small? It's because I tend to find lieutenants who are strong in these areas and can drive the agenda

It's easy for CIO to become a slave to the schedule of standard meetings, key people you need to meet, vendors that require attention and other activities that get scheduled. What I am suggesting is to work your calendar backwards especially on thirty to sixty day horizons. What key activities should you schedule to drive your transformational agenda?

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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.