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The CIO's resolutions for 2016 - it's never too late to improve

20 Jan 2016

Do you believe New Year’s resolutions are too old fashioned – too analogue – for the digital age? Marc Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook doesn’t think so.

He sets himself a major new self-development challenge, outside of his mainstream job, every year. So should you. It’s too easy to fall into a rut of repetition, dusting off last year’s plan, updating the dates and project names and running it all over again.

However, the world around us changes. So from time-to-time, most of us need to stand back and ask how we could improve ourselves and our organisations at a more fundamental level.

If you did not set any fresh work-related personal development challenges for 2016, or if those you tried are not working well – help is at hand. Every year for over a decade Gartner has published a set of contemporary ideas for New Year’s resolutions, based on our interactions with many hundreds of CIOs who are facing similar challenges and have uncovered interesting solutions.

The macro challenge of this era for CIOs, is how to move digital change forward in the enterprise and how to change the IT department’s role and capability in that regard.

So our resolutions for 2016 centre on the kind of leadership improvements you can make to put you in a better position to drive that change more effectively. This year we organised the resolutions into three categories:

  • Influence to the top and link through the core

  • Acquire the resources needed to deepen digital business change

  • Reshape your organisation

To make digital change more substantial in your enterprise, it is vital that your CEO, board and others understand the substantial business opportunities they may be missing and the risks of inaction. It’s easy to say that the CIO should be able to convince them, but not always simple in practice.

One of our 2016 resolutions in this category is simply to start taking non-executive board directors out to breakfast. Should you seek permission before doing that? Not necessarily. Would dinner be an equally good choice – probably not.

To acquire the resources needed to deepen digital change, the business must often make an investment that is considerably beyond the scope of an incremental change to the IT budget.

Some of the smartest large companies are already finding that selling assets from the ‘old model’ is a way to fund the development of the new digital model they will pursue.

So one of our 2016 resolutions is to start making a private ‘sacrifice list’ of those things you would suggest they sell, if and when that conversation arises. A bold move? Perhaps – but being prepared for key breakthrough moments is the hallmark of great leadership.

To make your whole organisation more digital, requires the culture to change. That’s not easy but it is essential. If your people don’t truly ‘think digital’, they will do a couple of interesting projects and then fall back into the old ways and methods.

So one of our 2016 resolutions in the third category of reshaping the organisation – is to write some digital behaviour maxims and make them ‘wallpaper’. This means make them extremely visible on walls, screen savers and drinks coasters so they become part of the fabric of everyday discussion. We have seen it work at a major organisation.

Article by Mark Raskino, VP and Gartner Fellow

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