There are always new books being published about what makes people successful, how to win, how to climb the corporate ladder, how to influence, lead and manage, and myriad other “formulas” for creating wealth and success.
I read many of these books to learn about the most recent research and how it can be helpful to my clients, but it’s not often that I get to hear an author in person. Recently, as an executive coach at the Wharton School MBA Program, I was fortunate to attend a seminar by Adam Grant, the renowned social scientist at the University of Pennsylvania (Photo at right).
I was especially intrigued by his new book, Give and Take (Viking, 2013), which is based on the concept that giving is a more productive way to work. (Grant was highlighted in a recent cover story in The N.Y Times magazine.)
His basic premise is that the "givers" in the world are happier, have more focus and willpower, create more successful teams, are better negotiators and make more money. Giving people care about others, go out of their way to develop others, are fair and honorable in what they do, are empathetic in their interactions, and view the world as a trustworthy place.
Importantly, a giver is authentic in behavior as opposed to being a "matcher" — someone who Grant describes as operating on the principle of: “You do for me, and I will do for you.” Givers also contrast with the “takers” who try to fake giving in order to get what they want with little regard for others.
Like you, I was particularly interested in how, or whether, Grant’s approach would work in the specialized IT arena because many of my coaching clients are CIOs, CTOs or directors of risk, cybersecurity or IT audit. I also teach a graduate class at Temple University's Fox School of Business for students in IT audit and cybersecurity.
When I asked the author about this, he responded that for IT and CIOs, "building a culture of givers is a key step toward encouraging knowledge-sharing, which in turn promotes creativity and innovation.”
Give and Take isn’t naïve, but it may be counterintuitive to what we have been taught about business in the past. It is optimistic and looks at the world of work and how "giving" affects all aspects of life, teams, salary and happiness. It’s an approach that’s certainly worth consideration by IT leaders whose success is increasingly dependent on interactions with others. I know I will be sharing some of the surprising insights in this book with my clients and students. Among these:
1. “Powerless communication” is a way of communicating that makes people seem more approachable, warmer, more trustworthy and humble. “When givers use powerless speech, they show us that they have our best interests at heart," according to Grant. A leader who is a giver can use powerful speech, as well as powerless speech.
Here is a link to Adam grant giving a TEDxEast talk on “The Power of Powerless Communication.”
2. “Takers” typically spend more time talking and less time listening. They also have a more difficult time accepting the ideas of others, especially if they conflict with their own. Grant writes: "Whereas takers often strive to be the smartest people in the room, givers are more receptive to expertise from others, even if it challenges their own beliefs." For the CIO and the IT team to succeed, the best ideas must be heard — regardless of where they originate.
3) Givers seek advice from others by asking questions, asking for input and recommendations. "When we seek advice from others, they feel flattered, and are more inclined to take our perspectives and become our advocates,” writes Grant.
4) Offer help and seek help as well. ”If you want other people to be givers, one of the easiest steps is to ask for help,” according to the book. This gives people a chance to feel valued and needed. Reunite with dormant colleagues and offer to help them or connect them with others.
Research has shown that givers are represented at the top of organizations in the same proportion as takers. One of the major differences is that givers care about those around them, their teams, their partners and their customers, as well as those with no direct relationship to them. In other words, givers are other-directed, not self-directed.
The CIO and the IT team must listen and ask questions, be influential and have teams that are valued and trusted. These traits make it not only possible, but necessary for the IT world to be filled with "other-focused individuals," i.e., givers. After all, their job is to make the organization — both internal intellectual capital and external customers — secure and safe in an increasingly impersonal world.
So are you a giver, a matcher or a taker? Grant has a free online survey on his website. I’d welcome your thoughts and feedback as well.
Toyota, GE Money, and Procter & Gamble hope their sound strategies for keeping IT in sync with business requirements will carry them into the future.
by Paul Desmond
Barbra Cooper, CIO of Toyota Motor Sales USA, had long been frustrated with the elusive alignment of IT with the business, the difficulty CIOs face in their efforts to rise in organizations, and other professional development concerns."I thought the operating model for corporate IT [must be] fundamentally flawed" when it came to dealing with the challenges of the next decade or two, Cooper says.
In 2006, to keep her own team on track for the future, Cooper transformed Toyota's IT structure to better meet business goals. She created an Office of the CIO that includes three major functional areas: finance, IT strategic planning, and organizational development, which includes human resource specialists dedicated to IT. She believes that if IT operates more like a traditional business unit, it can better drive change. "It's a subtle difference, perhaps, but it was important to me to start to break away" from IT being viewed as a cost center, she says.
With the new structure in place, her team is now looking at ways to help lead the business forward, such as identifying efficiencies in interdepartmental processes. Because IT crosses all business groups, it's in a good position to identify such opportunities, she says. "You have a unique lens into all the business logic."
Toyota is but one leading organization taking a fresh look at how to prepare its IT team for the years ahead. While their approaches vary, most forge a close alignment between IT and the business units and tend to have concrete programs for career advancement and leadership development. Leading IT organizations also often advocate a more challenging and interesting IT work environment as a way to keep talent flowing through the pipeline and staying at the company. Many are also taking a hard look at how they transfer knowledge among employees and train the next generation of IT staff.
Walking the Walk on Alignment
Aligning IT with business needs has been a long-time goal for most, but now companies are addressing it head-on. Ahmed Abdelmoteleb, Chief Technology Officer for GE Money Australia and New Zealand, based in Melbourne, introduced two major changes to the IT department (CIO office) to help better align it with the business. In addition to its dedicated teams for projects, service, support, quality, communication, IT finance and IT HR, Ahmed created an Enterprise Architecture team, which is mainly responsible for tactical alignment with business strategy. Its job includes long-term technological and architectural decisions, skills development, capability and organizational readiness. The second change was for senior IT managers to become members of the departments they serve — a change that occurred over the last couple of years. Some of the departments include home lending, personal loans, insurance, credit cards and various other lines of business that collectively employ some 4,000 people in the two countries.
The senior IT execs and managers "live with the business units, attend all the business-unit meetings, and are considered part of the leadership of those business units," Ahmed says. The IT execs also participate in regular strategy sessions with GE Money Australia and New Zealand's CEO and the divisional VPs.
Toyota takes a similar approach to interspersing the IT organization within business units. In addition to the Office of the CIO, Cooper has four divisional CIOs, or DIOs, who are accountable to major business segments including: Automotive, Customer Service & Service Parts, Business Support Services, and Dealers & Affiliates. A central enterprise services group provides infrastructure, design, engineering and operations services to all the DIOs, who, in turn, are accountable for developing applications and supporting their respective business units. They're also responsible for the operation and performance of IT services, including those that are outsourced to the enterprise services group, Cooper says.
This structure balances business needs with "maintaining certain elements of standardization that are necessary to keep costs down" and reducing redundant functions, according to the Toyota CIO.
Grooming New Leaders
Beyond organizational changes, IT executives require training in additional skills, and young workers need to be groomed for leadership roles. That's why, two years ago, when Procter & Gamble overhauled the career model for the company's IT group, known as Information Decisions Solutions (IDS), it created an Executive Development Program aimed at training the next generation of IDS leaders. The program largely falls to Tim Massa, Director of HR for the Global Business Services and IDS group — which means he is part of the IT group, reporting directly to the CIO.
"We provide an accelerated mentoring and sponsorship program where [candidates] connect with leaders outside of IT," Massa says. Roughly 8 percent to 10 percent of the 3,000 IDS employees worldwide get nominated to participate in the program. "Not everyone will make it, and we're clear on that," he says, "but we want to provide opportunities for the best of the best," to quickly learn and grow.
GE Money Australia has two IT leadership development programs. The first, called the Information Management Leadership Program (IMLP), grooms junior employees over a two-year period. The GE global leadership training offers talented university graduates the ability to rotate among GE's IT groups, including at least one rotation in another country. The IMLP typically covers four six-month assignments through one of GE's major business units. Included are: on-the-job training in various technologies; formal in-class coursework in advanced information technology concepts, finance, leadership and business skills; extensive peer networking in more than 50 countries, and exposure to senior IT and business leaders. "At the end of two years, they apply for available roles" in IT, Ahmed says. The second program is an advanced leadership development program aimed at preparing senior IT leaders for executive roles.
IT employees can also take advantage of the training that the parent corporation provides to all employees or choose from different streams of IT disciplines such as engineering, technical management and general management. As a result of the program, "we know whom we want to bring into the organization, what resources we have, and where these resources will be going in the future," Ahmed says.
GE Money Australia also wants to better use its talent for innovation, and not for routine processes. To work smarter and do more with the current IT staff of approximately 300 employees and contractors, the company is piloting a program to automate many routine IT jobs in service provisioning and management. When a new employee joins the company, for example, the "on-boarding" process is automated using the Service Catalog and other IT systems. As a result, IT personnel are able to handle more challenging, strategic jobs that lead to greater alignment and realization of business strategy. Ultimately, this leads to greater staff satisfaction and, therefore, retention, as well.
At Toyota, communicating IT's goals to the team was key to Cooper's management style and the culture she wanted to create. She held individual 90-minute meetings with each of her 25 managers to outline her ideas for the new IT direction. She described what success would look like, explained what she thought each manager's strengths and weaknesses were with respect to the plan, and let them ask questions. Afterward, she wrote each manager a personal letter outlining the discussion — a process that took about two hours per letter.
Cooper says she had never spent so much time on any other employee development project but believed the investment was worthwhile. In particular, she wanted to reset expectations among middle management, who will ultimately either block or enable the change. By setting a new baseline and model, and spelling out expectations with customized plans for each manager, Cooper says she got "a lot of traction. It worked."
Cooper is now attempting to tackle another tough IT problem: knowledge transfer. She says that keeping intellectual property within an organization is a fundamental requirement, given the constantly changing nature of IT and the high turnover rates.
To address the issue, Toyota is using collaboration tools, such as wikis, to create a series of e-learning modules that capture knowledge from subject-matter experts and let the modules be consistently updated as necessary. With this in place, new staff can quickly grasp at least some of the intricacies of the job, Cooper says.
Procter and Gamble is continually looking at tools that capture and catalog job-specific information as well. "Collaboration is key to keeping that information and experience alive," Massa says. Given P&G's size and resources, it has an established corporate program to enable employees to connect with counterparts around the globe. On-line collaboration tools and the launch of a global network of video collaboration studios are both part of this program.
At GE Money, Ahmed says employees often fall into two categories when it comes to knowledge-sharing: those who take pride in leading technology initiatives and transferring and sharing the knowledge with others, and those who hoard knowledge and keep it to themselves. He believes that transparency is critical to innovation, and therefore, is "building an environment and culture that is enabled by processes, tools and people that endorses knowledge-sharing and teamwork. This allows us to lead rather than follow."
Nurturing and training future IT leaders, of course, is a job that's never finished. Ahmed has seen promising results so far from his service-management strategy, which has been partially implemented in Australia and New Zealand. Once complete, he would like to see it adopted globally if it can be adapted successfully in the more than 55 countries and cultures in which the company operates.
Looking back on what she's learned over her 30-plus-year career, Toyota's Cooper says IT must anticipate business requirements and lead rather than follow the trends.
With IT's constant operational demands, it's easy to say there's never time for planning or training, Cooper says, but that's a poor excuse. "If I'm leaving anything for the generation of executives who are going to succeed me, it's hopefully that you can't ever just stop" training your workforce or addressing their career development. For Cooper, that's time well spent.
Paul Desmond is President of PDEdit, an IT publishing company in Southborough, Mass.
ASK THE EXPERTS
Barbra Cooper, Group Vice President and CIO, Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc.
Barbra Cooper is responsible for the strategy, development and operation of all systems and technology at Toyota. Cooper also heads the University of Toyota, located in Torrance, Calif., which provides training and education for company associates, as well as Toyota and Lexus dealerships and distributors globally.
Cooper's career spans more than 30 years in information technology, and she joined Toyota in 1996 as a Vice President in information systems. She has also held the positions of Group Vice President and CIO for MicroAge Corp., CIO for Maricopa County in Phoenix, Ariz., Vice President of Technology for American Express, and Director of Information Systems for Miller & Paine department stores.
Cooper attended the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway, for her graduate studies program. She is a member of the Society for Information Management, Organization of Women Executives, the Corporate Executive Board for Chief Information Officers, the UCLA IS Associate Program and the CIO Leadership Network. She also serves on the University of Nebraska JD Edwards Honors Program Corporate Advisory Board.
Ahmed Abdelmoteleb, Chief Technology Officer, GE Money, Australia and New Zealand
Ahmed has served as CTO for GE Money, Australia and New Zealand since 2007. He is in charge of regional enterprise technology, strategy and innovation.
Ahmed joined GE in 2003 as the Senior Information Security Risk Analyst in charge of all security aspects of acquisitions and integrations and then was named Global Infrastructure Manager at GE headquarters in the U.S., where he was responsible for the global communications network across 48 countries.
Prior to GE, Ahmed ran a P&L security engineering practice for a large solution integrator.
Tim Massa, Director of HR, Global Business Services and Information and Decision Solutions (IT) at Procter & Gamble
Massa manages a global network of more than 40 HR professionals who support 7,000 employees in the P&G Global Business Services and Information Technology areas of P&G.
Massa joined P&G in 1989 and holds a BA from the University of Dayton, Ohio. Among his roles, Massa served as P&G's Associate Director, Central Europe North, in Poland and the Baltic states, based in Warsaw, Poland.
When IT is disruptive, how do IT executives evolve and grow? To find out, and to celebrate the 20th issue of Smart Enterprise, we revisited three executives featured in the past.
David Guzmán: Transforming Healthcare
When profiled by Smart Enterprise in 2010, David Guzmán was CIO/CTO of Acxiom Corp., a Little Rock, Ark.-based provider of business intelligence and marketing database services. Today, he is CIO of H.D. Smith, a privately held healthcare distributor and services provider based in Springfield, Ill. The new position, he says, gives him a new opportunity to help transform not only a company, but also the country. “Healthcare is such a critical issue for our country that we cannot continue going along the current course trajectory, now approaching 20 percent of GDP,” Guzmán says. “We’ve got to improve the outcomes of patients. Technology is going to play a key role in allowing us to execute this vision of controlling healthcare costs and improving patient outcomes.”
While the bulk of H.D. Smith’s revenue now comes from distributing pharmaceuticals, Guzmán is committed to a vision that will see more than half the company’s revenue coming from IT-enabled healthcare business solutions and services. “Technology is going to enable the personalization of medicine,” he says. “And this will ultimately lead to longer life spans and more productive lives.”
But before H.D. Smith can run, it has to learn to walk. That’s why Guzmán’s first order of business in his new position has been to implement a huge ERP project. It has involved automating the company’s warehouse facility in New York, modernizing its e-commerce platform, and moving large-scale computing resources to the cloud. As part of the strategy, Guzmán recently spearheaded a move of the company’s entire data center into a privately managed external cloud. He expects this to free the IT staff to work on more innovative projects, and to position his company for its transformation into a services provider.
Guzmán is proud to have a seat at the executive table at H.D. Smith, and he says the IT upgrades and changes are crucial to the business. Now, IT can focus on creating new services for the business, instead of just keeping the lights on. This focus will become increasingly important because H.D. Smith serves not just one or two customer segments, as do most traditional pharmaceutical companies, but many. In addition to serving both the retail and institutional markets, H.D. Smith also serves specialty medicine providers, such as disease-specific clinics, and individual patients. In fact, the company’s push into consumer-directed medicine has led to the development of several IT-enabled business services, mainly via a majority acquisition of Triplefin.
To accomplish all its goals, Guzmán has partnered with CSC, the Falls Church, Va.-based provider of business solutions and services. CSC is the same company that provides cloud services to many U.S. federal and state government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, NASA and the Maryland State Highway Administration.
Going forward, Guzmán expects IT to allow for more and better personalization of healthcare. And he expects H.D. Smith to be at the forefront of that effort. “Today, medications are mass-produced; they’re not targeted toward the individual,” he says. “Think of genomic recognition, and then combine that with family and personal medical histories. That will allow a much more proactive, personalized treatment that’s going to prolong and enrich our lives.”
David Blodgett: Getting Agile
When David Blodgett appeared in a 2011 issue of Smart Enterprise, he was then VP of IT and Data Center Operations at Wyndham Worldwide Corp., a Parsippany, N.J.-based hotels and hospitality company. Today he is Senior Director of Global Infrastructure Services at Expedia Inc., the online travel service provider. In making the move, Blodgett has also moved from supporting customers in hotels to helping customers book not only hotels, but also the airplanes, trains and boats that bring them to their destinations.
“ Performance and compliance requirements don’t go away. Nor does the need to be a good financial steward and to maintain operating-environment visibility.”
The transition, Blodgett says, has been an exciting one. His most recent effort involves developing an infrastructure-services framework that is optimized to support Agile software development. “A key focus area for modern infrastructure teams, including my team, is to enable Agile and other time-to-market-focused application delivery methodologies while maintaining environmental stability and control,” Blodgett says. “Performance and compliance requirements don’t go away. Nor does the need to be a good financial steward and to maintain operating-environment visibility.”
A key change for Blodgett, as well as for other IT executives, is the shift toward external cloud services. Internal IT, he says, is no longer the only game in town. In a world where anyone can spin up a Software-as-a-Service contract or their own servers on Amazon, Blodgett and his team must strive to provide not just competitive services, but also services that address the business’s need to rapidly innovate and expand. “To do this in a way that ensures that systems remain stable and highly performing, and remain compliant with a myriad of regulatory and operational requirements, requires extensive use of automation and careful planning,” he says.
Another shift for Blodgett involves the types of skills needed on his team. Expedia has more than 10,000 employees across its dozen or so brands, including Expedia.com, Hotels.com and Hotwire. Because many of these workers are either involved with development services or direct consumers of IT services, Blodgett’s team must have what he calls customer-facing polish. “There was a time when the only way you got anything out of a traditional IT shop was to submit a request form and wait weeks until your service was delivered,” Blodgett says. “But now, in the end-user and developer-driven IT culture, business teams can circumvent IT with external cloud-based engagements. So IT professionals have to have a bit of salesperson in them. They need the ability to manage and deliver a service, versus performing some isolated IT function.”
Of course, IT executives also need expertise with technology. Blodgett’s areas of expertise include virtualization, self-provisioning and cloud management automation. “We’re focused on enabling innovation and speed to market,” he says. “We’re building out internal capabilities that go well beyond the traditional scope of cloud service providers.”
The end goal, Blodgett says, is “allowing developers and business teams to instantiate, on demand, the operating environments they require to innovate and drive the business forward, and to do so economically and with quality.”
Albert Porco: Healthier Medical Records
Healthcare and IT are recurring themes in Albert Porco’s career. In 2008, when Smart Enterprise first interviewed him, Porco was CIO of Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Today, he is a contract CIO at the Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, N.J., and an employee of Malvern, Pa.-based Siemens Healthcare. “I view myself as an IT guy who happened to spend 20 years in the healthcare field, rather than a healthcare guy who happens to do IT,” he says today.
While Siemens is Porco’s official employer, he spends his days in the 200-bed community hospital with a view of the New York City skyline. Much of what he oversees is technology from Siemens. Yet Porco is making decisions that will shape the hospital’s future. The medical center is relying on Porco’s expertise in its quest to meet the objectives of the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program — referred to as “Meaningful Use.” The program is intended to spur adoption of certified EHR technology by using Medicare/Medicaid funding as a lever. Eligible providers and hospitals can earn cash incentives by demonstrating their use of certified EHR technology. Then, as the program advances, new standards will be set for how users are meaningfully interacting with EHRs. This level of Meaningful Use must initially be maintained over a 90-day reporting period. Later, it must be maintained for one year. Compliance is important, because hospitals and other medical providers that do not use certified EHR technology in the future could be penalized with reduced Medicare payments.
As Palisades progresses from Meaningful Use Stage 1 to Stage 2, Porco is ensuring that the solutions achieve a high degree of clinical adoption and utilization. One challenge has been finding new ways of using electronic medical records (EMRs) as an incentive for patients to engage with their physicans. That’s a new goal for many hospitals, as well as one that has been written into the Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements. The problem is, many patients don’t want to look at their EMRs when they’re not sick, Porco explains. And when they are sick, they just want to see the doctor. Adds Porco: “I can’t force people to look at their EMRs.”
“ My job is to tap into the infrastructure and technology, and create a foundation so that we’re ready to make it happen.”
That said, doctors’ offices and hospitals can at least tempt patients to look at their EMRs by bundling these records with other services, such as making appointments and viewing lab results. “If you add that ability to a portal — if one of the features says, ‘Click and look at your medical record’ — well, you might look,” Porco says. “Or you might want to see results of a lab test and take a peek at the rest of the records while you’re there.”
The push to EMRs also affects what Porco’s team does on the back end. That’s because as patients are added, the hospital’s infrastructure requirements expand exponentially. To make sure these resources are always up and available, Porco is depending on virtualized servers, storage resources and desktops. He’s also implementing a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategy for employees’ smartphones and computing tablets, a project similar to one he previously managed at Kings County Hospital. As part of the first element of his new strategy, Palisades Medical Center will virtualize its entire technology infrastructure. “We’ve got young physicians coming in who want to bring their own devices, but that only works in a virtualized environment,” Porco says. “We have to be able to meet the demand of the doctor who says, ‘I want to get the electronic medical record on my phone.’”
Another major effort aims to let authorized medical clinicians gain anywhere, anytime access to the center’s medical records. Even for a simple medical procedure such as drawing a patient’s blood sample, everyone in the process — the presiding physician, the phlebotomist who draws the blood and the lab technician — act as essentially independent agents who move around the hospital to perform various services. And because even something as simple as a blood draw can be affected by other factors (such as food or medication given to the patient), Porco and his team intend to use the EMR, and other ancillary systems, to prevent delays or duplicative efforts that can both frustrate patients and present hospitals with large costs. “When you’ve got that kind of dynamic in place, you can’t simply say, ‘We’re going to put two computers and a printer on the nurse’s station, and we’re done,’” Porco says. “You have to go where the work is being performed, the point of care. You need intelligent systems that are managing and optimizing the workflow, and delivering patient care in the most efficient manner.”
Porco is also working on a plan to reinforce the Palisades Medical Center against powerful storms such as 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. The Medical Center sits just 100 feet from the Hudson River, and because of Sandy, it was forced to close for a time. Among Porco’s efforts in this area is a new plan for more robust disaster recovery.
Porco’s main focus, however, remains on helping patients and improving their healthcare experience. “All those things we’ve read about in sci-fiction — like genomic therapies, growing organs with stem cells, and individualized medicine — are becoming more and more of a reality,” Porco says. Hospitals, he adds, must at least consider these types of services and make intelligent decisions about whether they want to offer them, how they can offer them, and how they can partner with others who offer them. “My job,” Porco says, “is to tap into the infrastructure and technology, and create a foundation so that we’re ready to make it happen in any way the hospital decides to proceed.”
Karen J. Bannan is a New York-based writer and editor, and a former Executive Editor of Smart Enterprise.
Smart Enterprise Magazine
Now that everything is connected, CIOs must make creating a great customer experience their top priority.
We live in the era of the network. Over the years, I have come to believe in the power of networks as the most fundamental driver of progress. Everything is connected, and information flows through networks with ever greater intensity. This interconnectedness changes everything, both inside and outside of companies. In turn, it means more challenges for the CIO, and also more opportunities.
What are some examples of these changes? Traditional markets are disappearing, and they are morphing into networks of information with the customer at the epicenter. As the outside world becomes more interconnected, companies have to create their own ecosystems as well. Enterprises that don’t evolve in this manner won’t match the speed, intensity and impact of the forces outside their company walls.
Three-Month Strategies: Tents, Not Pyramids
Let’s not forget, we live in a world where volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) reign. As the pace of this world accelerates, it becomes nearly impossible to plan for the long term. As a CEO recently told me, “We have a new five-year strategy every three months.”
The same rapid-fire pace applies to the IT department. The CIO has to rev up to the clock speeds of the rest of the company and of the outside world. As a result, the CIO focus will shift, and there will be only one primary goal for the company: offering customers the best possible experience. The entire organization will be geared toward this aim, and the CIO will have to act more swiftly — building tents that can be deployed or taken down quickly, not pyramids that require lots of planning and work. The CIO will have to lead innovation, help redefine the company’s strategy and product set, and provide guidance for business expansion. In short, the role will become much more strategic and less operational.
Redefining Corporate Hierarchies
At the same time, the IT department will be set up as a network, too. Hierarchy will no longer be the accepted organizational mode. The team will function as a connected set of individual specialists — each responsible for his or her project in a larger mesh of interrelated projects that all support the flow of the business.
Terms such as employee retention will need reexamination, too. Employers in a networked world will no longer be interested in keeping people on board for life. A couple of months ago, I spoke to managers of a company that encouraged people to have friends and relatives join the company. The idea was that having a family network inside the company would keep them on the job. But going forward, employees will no longer seek lifelong employment, and this company will definitely need to change its HR policy.
Employees — an “old normal” term — will switch from one project to another, from one company to another. Long-term loyalty is out. Even family loyalty, illustrated in the example above, will not tie professionals to a company for life. One of the most important functions inside the new IT department will be that of the recruiter, who will attract top talent for short-term engagements.
Taking an Outside-in Approach
The evolved work environment will require a completely new mindset by the CIO. The most important challenge will be to connect the outside world to the inner workings of the department. Trends and technologies — such as social networks, the cloud and the consumerization of IT — will have to be incorporated inside the IT department, too. The speed of change taking place in the outside world must be mirrored by the speed of change in IT.
I have long urged CIOs to get out of their ivory towers; staying inside is no longer an option. I strongly advise you, as IT leaders, to spend lots of time looking out of your window. Observe how networks are pushing innovation, and then make that connected disruption your own.
Peter Hinssen is co-founder of Across Group and Chairman of Across Technology; a speaker and coach; and the author of The New Normal (Mach Media, 2010).
Smart Enterprise Magazine
As everything becomes digital, CIO success must increasingly be measured by business, rather than IT, outcomes.
How quickly the world has changed. Increasingly, CEOs tell me, “We are a technology company” that is in the business of banking, insurance, publishing, retail or other industry sector. In this new world order, key IT competencies and skills transcend the creation of an architecture or specific development methodology. Critical metrics for IT executives are increasingly measured by commercial contributions and desired business outcomes.
Unfortunately, many CIOs — and others aspiring to lead the digital business — are not gaining these competencies. Even more alarming is a broad lack of investment in the development of the right competencies for the technological growth of the business. In a Russell Reynolds report based on a recent global survey, “Rethinking People Leadership in IT: Four Key Findings for Improving IT Leader Selection, Performance and Succession,” nearly 1,000 CIOs and their peers shared their frustration at the gap they perceive between desired areas of mastery — including influence, leadership, performance orientation and strategic ability — and the ability of their direct reports to deliver on these areas. While CIOs rate people, results and change-related competencies as among their most important activities, they also view these areas as most in need of improvement among rising IT leaders.
In a decade and a half of recruiting CIOs, I have never seen the role of IT at a more serious inflection point. The demographics of the global workforce, and the associated covenants that these individuals have with employers, are rapidly changing, along with the very definition of work. Yet CIOs are not keeping pace.
As recently as 18 months ago, the archetype of CIO excellence was a general manager of an IT utility who could successfully deliver an ERP implementation, quote network uptime and deliver return on IT investment, measured primarily through cost reduction and process improvement. Many CEOs accepted these qualifications as rote; their CFO counterparts were equally pleased to qualify success as alignment with the balance sheet. Misguided IT leaders followed in lockstep, believing that they were “aligned with the business” if they could deliver on these metrics.
This premise is no longer acceptable — or even optimal — for maximizing corporate performance. CIOs must now figure out how to stay relevant during a digital transformation in which they risk disintermediation by vendors going directly to users (and vice versa). CIOs also need to manage emerging relationships at the board level, all while keeping things humming and secure 24x7x365.
The Future Is Now
I have often spoken about the on-demand future, when users will get what they want in the moment, made to order, in the media of their choosing, and in a secure, cost-effective manner. This is a huge change in IT service delivery, and it is no longer in the future. The future is now. IT leaders must effectively deliver a complex portfolio of services and solutions in an “on-demand present.”
As we wrote in another of our reports, “The Rise of the Chief Digital Officer,” there is a need for an executive who oversees the full range of digital strategies and drives change across the organization. I believe that a CIO must navigate this fluid landscape by balancing rigor with creativity and innovation. If the CIO job is increasingly bigger than any one individual, companies need to place a premium on finding complementary talent at all levels of the business — whether it’s outside partners or chief digital officers. The digital business deserves no less.
Shawn Banerji is a Managing Director at Russell Reynolds.
Smart Enterprise Magazine
We live in an era of big data. Whether you work in financial services, consumer goods, travel and transportation, or industrial products, analytics are becoming a competitive necessity for your organization. But even IT people and those who can manipulate data successfully need partners -- business managers who can partner effectively with the “quants” (quantitative analysts) to ensure that their analytics work yields better strategic and tactical decisions.
For executives fluent in analytics -- such as Gary Loveman of Caesars Entertainment (with a Ph.D. from MIT), Jeff Bezos of Amazon (an electrical engineering and computer science major from Princeton), or Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google (computer science Ph.D. dropouts from Stanford) -- there’s no problem. But many executives -- even those in IT-- find their math and statistics background may be a bit rusty.
How do you help lead your company into the analytical revolution, or at least become a good foot soldier in it? My recent book (co-authored with Jinho Kim), Keeping Up with the Quants, and a related article in Harvard Business Review -- offer a primer for non-quants. However, CIOs and other leaders can benefit from the pointers offered as well -- especially CIOs who oversee centralized analytics groups.
The ability of quants to communicate and collaborate with executives is directly tied to their effectiveness.
At companies such as Procter & Gamble, “embedded” analysts within IT are one of the most important vehicles for connecting the company’s data and analytics with functional and business-unit decision makers.
Adding Business Context
In addition, for decisions affecting the IT function itself, CIOs can begin to think of themselves as consumers of analytics. They might be consuming data and analytics to decide, for instance, whether a new data center is needed, or whether to renew an outsourcing contract. If the quants are well-trained, they are good at gathering the available data and making predictions about the future. But most lack sufficient business knowledge to identify hypotheses and relevant variables and to know when the ground beneath an organization is shifting. As a data consumer, you need to generate hypotheses and determine whether results and recommendations make sense in a changing business environment. In other words, you can help guide the quants toward practical business applications and outcomes by challenging their assumptions -- gently, of course.
If you remember the content of your college-level statistics course, you may be fine. If not, bone up on the basics of regression analysis, statistical inference and experimental design. You will need to understand the process for making analytical decisions, including when you should step in and ask questions. Remember that every analytical model is built on assumptions that producers ought to explain and defend.
You might also learn directly from the quants in your organization by working closely with them on one or more projects. If they report to you, working with them should be that much easier.
What to Ask Your Numbers People
Many managers fear that asking questions will make them appear unintelligent about quantitative matters. However, if you ask the right kinds of questions, you can both appear knowledgeable and advance the likelihood of a good decision outcome.
Many possible questions for various stages of analysis are listed in our book. Three of the most important you can ask about data are:
1. What are the assumptions behind the model you built? Is there reason to believe those assumptions are no longer valid?
You are really looking only for a thoughtful response here. The only way to know for sure about whether assumptions still hold is to do a different analysis on newly gathered data -- which could be very expensive.
2. How is the data you gathered distributed?
If the person can’t describe the distribution, he or she is a shoddy analyst. Good analysts should have already looked at — and be able to show you — a visual display of the distribution of your data on any particular variable. If you are interested in one variable as a likely predictor of another, ask for a scatterplot and look to see whether the data line up in any linear pattern; that would indicate a strong correlation between the two variables. You could go on to discuss whether the data follow a normal distribution, too, and if there were any significant outliers or unexpected values that don’t fit the pattern.
3. What’s the “provenance” of the data in your analysis?
This question is particularly important to CIOs. It’s important to know where the data came from and how reliable the source is. Few are better positioned to judge answers to that question than the head of the IT function. The data may also be external. As I argue in my forthcoming book, Big Data at Work, big data is much more likely to be sourced externally. Discussing external data with analysts may help CIOs understand which types of data are in demand for decisions, and which need to be brought in-house on an ongoing basis.
The main takeaway is that data analysts and quants are excellent at what they do -- culling data and drawing conclusions. But they often need guidance from senior business managers and IT leaders to make sure the information is thoroughly accurate and that it is actionable and useful for making solid, data-driven decisions for the business.
See the related Q&A here.
Tom Davenport is the President's Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College. He has led research centers at Accenture, McKinsey and Company, Ernst & Young, and CSC Index, and has taught at Harvard Business School, Dartmouth's Tuck School, the University of Texas, and the University of Chicago. He is a widely published author and speaker on the topics of analytics, information and knowledge management, reengineering, enterprise systems, and electronic business. Tom has written or co-authored fifteen best-selling business books, the latest, Keeping Up with the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics. continues his pioneering work on Data Analytics begun with the bestseller, Competing on Analytics.
Data scientists, security experts and mobile app developers will remain the hot IT career paths for at least the next few years, says a top executive for Robert Half Technology, a leading IT recruitment firm.
“The job market will be strong for people who can take data and package it” so that executives can make better business decisions, says John Reed, Senior Executive Director at Robert Half.
While this makes perfect sense to anyone who understands the IT industry, what I really wondered was where and how these skills will be developed. In addition to Reed, I asked several academic CIOs about this, and got some interesting insights.
For instance, even though elite universities such as Carnegie-Mellon, Harvard, MIT, Stanford -- as well as many liberal arts, business and tech colleges -- offer courses in data analytics, companies are having a difficult time finding skilled data scientists. In fact, 53 percent of the U.S. CIOs surveyed by Robert Half Technology say that “they lack sufficient staff to access customer data and generate reports and other business insights from it.”
“A lot of companies are growing their own data analysts, hiring people with math and statistics degrees, and teaching them analytics on the job,” Reed told me.
And that’s not the only skill in demand for both aspiring and mid-career IT professionals. Along with big data, IT security and mobility, cloud technologies and virtualization skills will be important. Reed’s advice to midcareer professionals is clear: If you are not working in any of those areas now, “Tell management that you’d love to gain some new skills and work with the team,” he says, even if it’s after hours. “You always have to be looking at building your craft.”
The Right Mix
Students particularly need to take Reed’s advice to heart. While college computer science departments are doing a much better job partnering with business to provide students with practical experience mixed with academics, U.S. undergraduate education is only a short four years.
Beyond technology expertise, companies also want applicants with a commitment to lifelong learning and increasingly, problem solving and communications skills. IT executives are finding it difficult to find well-rounded applicants at all levels, says Mark Schwartz, CIO at BlumShapiro, a midsize accounting firm based in West Hartford, Conn.
“Job candidates either have the technical skills but don’t have the communications skills, or they have the verbal skills but lack the technical skills,” Schwartz says. During his own studies for a degree in management information systems at Northeastern University, Schwartz took on numerous collaborative projects and had to make presentations to round out his education.
“While we need people with technical expertise, what’s often more important is having an out-of-the-box thinker who can solve problems and communicate to the accountants at the firm,” he says.
Curt Pederson is doing his part to prepare students better for IT careers. Before signing on this year as CIO at the University of Portland, Pederson was CIO at Oregon State University (OSU), which has a unique Open Source Lab where students can work.
The 16 students in the program receive intensive hands-on experience with Apache, Drupal and other Linux flavors, resulting in three to four years of development and operations experience when they graduate. They also learn to handle internal customers.
“The students solved problems, responded to trouble tickets and in many ways were one to two years ahead of most other students,” he says, adding that they all gained confidence and many were recruited by top Silicon Valley companies.
Pederson says the program was so successful that it’s now being moved from its home in OSU’s IT department to the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The hope is to expand access to the Open Systems Lab to 100 students, a prospect Pederson says may be challenging because the small size was part of the program’s formula for success. Pederson also plans to provide the students at the University of Portland with a similar experience. Already, roughly half of the college’s 80 computer science students are doing hands-on project work in the IT department.
Above all, it seems to me that IT workers today -- and tomorrow -- need to stay as flexible as the mobile workplaces many of them will encounter. And any way they can gain new skills in these hot technology areas will give them an edge.
Where are you finding technical talent? Share your experiences with Smart Enterprise Exchange and your peers.
Steve Zurier is a business and technology writer based in Maryland.
Recently, the Wall Street Journal held a CIO networking event where CIOs talked about moving up the ladder into the corner office. It’s logical that if technology is the future, a CIO’s deep knowledge of technology will help organizations succeed in a world dominated by big data, cloud storage and social media. Yet, technical skills alone are not enough.
In my experience as an executive coach, it takes much more than tech savvy to rise to the highest ranks of the organization.
I work with CIOs, CFOs, cyber security mangers, engineers, scientists, physicians and finance executives. Some have recently been promoted, or have excellent technical skills, but still lack leadership qualities that will push them ahead. What’s missing might be described by a supervisor as either lack of confidence or lack of what we call “emotional intelligence.”
As I have written about previously, executives who make it to the top have a unique combination of self-awareness, self-restraint and social skills that I call emotional intelligence. But even that is not enough these days.
Developing Strong Presence Two Ways
Another set of skills that need development and strengthening could be called "executive presence." What are the signs of weak executive presence? When a client defers to their bosses too much either by looking down at their notes, or not making eye contact; when presentation skills fall short or when someone has a slouching posture—these all put you at a disadvantage.
These may seem like small shortcomings, but they are very important if you want to move ahead. One of the best executive coaches I know Jeff Kaplan, writes that: “Executive Presence is about being present with your audience, whether that's one person or a room of 1,000... It's about how you "present" yourself regardless of whether you're giving a formal presentation, participating in an executive team meeting, or talking to one person at the water cooler.”
Fundamentally, it is about truly being “in the moment” with others. In our multitasking, mobile-device filled business world, this is increasingly difficult. To improve in this area, two key ingredients are required. First, you must be absolutely fully prepared regardless of whether you're giving a presentation to clients or having a quick conversation with your boss on the phone. When you're fully prepared, you can then deeply listen to what others are saying without worrying about what they're thinking of you or what great wisdom you want to say next. You’ll be relaxed, connected to your breath (instead of cut off from your breath due to anxiety or disorganization), and able to pick up nuances from what others say and how they say it.
The second key ingredient is that you must be fully present, completely engaged in the moment and not "in your head" with thought -- such as judging the person or audience you're speaking to, or wondering what your audience is thinking about you or what you're going to make for dinner.
When people are fully present, creativity flows, new ideas emerge, awareness gets deepened, and problems get solved.
By contrast, if someone is unprepared, in their head, or pushing through a pre-set agenda, there is no room for the creative thoughts.”
Beyond having confidence in your ideas, executive presence also means dressing the part, knowing how to hold an audience’s attention, having confidence in who you are and what you believe in, having excellent social skills, knowing when to show self restraint and being organizationally savvy. Surprisingly, these are things that can be taught-- even if initially, the new behaviors feel artificial. Many a TED talk focuses on powerful behavior and how “fake it until you make it or become it.”
Executive presence is hard to describe, yet easy to spot. Most importantly, it’s vital for CIOs and others who aspire to lead and to succeed.
Three trends are gathering momentum in the workforce. Neither you nor your business can afford to ignore them this year.
1. Diversity Is Destiny
Workforce diversity has obvious business benefits, including in-house access to a varied and broad range of skills and a market presence that says you are committed to acquiring, developing and retaining top talent from every possible source. For companies that strive to become more consistently innovative, diversity is essential to bringing new ideas to bear. And for companies designing apps for a global marketplace or delivering e-commerce services to global customers, having staff that represents the many languages, cultural backgrounds, races, genders and ages your business is trying to serve just makes sense.
But two dimensions of diversity are particularly important to address this year.
First, you must create a workplace that is geared to attract and retain women. For companies seeking a workforce with higher education, women will be essential. In the U.S., the Department of Education estimated that
women earned 62 percent of all associate degrees in the graduating class of 2013, 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, 60 percent of all master’s degrees, and 52 percent of all doctorates.
Today, women are educated in higher numbers in most major countries throughout the world, and the gap is expected to grow, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Second, for more than a decade, Hispanics have been the nation’s largest minority and, by 2050, will represent more than half of the nation’s workforce. In sharp contrast to Gen Y’ers as a whole, our research indicates that Hispanics are particularly likely to be drawn to larger, well-established firms with recognized brands. This cohort will be an important — perhaps even the single most important — source of talent for major corporations over the years ahead. Developing an environment that is attractive to Hispanics should be an immediate priority for every large organization. This will require a mix of traditional values — including well-thought-out career development options and status-related recognition — and forward-thinking practices, such as a wide variety of flexible work arrangements and options for exercising personal choice.
2. Contingent by Choice
More and more people are choosing a contingent work style — that is, temporary work that may be project-based or time-based — over full- or part-time work. The numbers will continue to grow. Yes, some will be involuntary; not everyone can find full-time employment. But, intriguingly, many people are choosing a contingent work style, seeking a better work/life balance, the ability to design their own careers or choose projects of particular interest.
New technologies and services for contingent workers make it easier and less painful to make the choice to go independent. Companies can reach out flexibly to individuals, while new types of talent brokers — such as YourEncore, an online network of retired engineers, or InnoCentive, which offers crowdsourcing services to companies with innovation challenges — connect free agents with project-based work in virtual marketplaces.
Although the IT industry has used offshoring and outsourcing for years, the benefits for corporations of the growing pool of individuals available on an ad hoc basis are adding up: cost flexibility from adjusting staff sizes up and down based on business requirements; greater speed and agility as talent needs can change on a dime, and a boost to innovation as contingent talent brings in new knowledge and fresh ideas based on experiences outside of the company or even the industry.
To take full advantage of this important emerging cadre of workers,
get rid of any perception of contingent workers as somehow less important, less skilled or less committed
than “permanent” employees. Going forward, employers must incorporate contingent workers in meaningful ways.
3. Meaning Is the New Money
IT work today involves the successful execution of activities that managers cannot prescribe or even monitor. This work asks individuals to deal with rich content that flows through infinite links. Individuals must make intelligent, well-informed decisions about what to share with whom — and what to ignore — with little guidance from the hierarchy to simplify the patterns of interaction.
Perhaps most significantly,
IT work requires high levels of discretionary effort. People have to choose to do the work and have to want to do it well.
They must dig deep within themselves to form innovative ideas and put their best thinking forward.
My research has clearly shown that discretionary effort ties directly to the individual’s level of engagement. Engagement, in turn, occurs when our work experiences reflect a clear set of values that we share. It can’t be mandated or monitored through physical oversight, nor does it respond to monetary incentives. For most workers today, meaning is the new money — it’s what motivates people at work to go the extra mile. Clear company values, translated into the day-to-day work experience, are the strongest drivers of an engaged workforce. By strengthening meaning and increasing engagement, firms can inspire employees whenever and wherever they work.
Tamara J. Erickson is a McKinsey Award-winning author, a leading expert on generations in the workplace, and a widely-respected expert on the changing workforce, collaboration and innovation, and the nature of work in intelligent organizations. She has three times been named one of the 50 most-influential living management thinkers in the world by Thinkers50; has written a trilogy of books on how individuals in specific generations can excel in today’s workplace: Retire Retirement, What’s Next, Gen X? and Plugged In; and is working on a fourth book for the generation under 18 today. Tammy has also authored or co-authored numerous Harvard Business Review articles and the book Workforce Crisis: How to Beat the Coming Shortage of Skills and Talent.
She is the Executive Fellow, Organizational Behavior, at London Business School, where she has designed and co-directs the school’s leadership program for senior executives, Leading Businesses into the Future. She is the founder and CEO of Tammy Erickson Associates, a research-based firm dedicated to helping clients build intelligent organizations. Erickson has also served on the board of directors of two Fortune 500 corporations. She holds a degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Chicago and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.