Definitely NOT one of them…

1 November 2016

Of late I have been party to a number of discussions around the role of the CIO in creating and delivering a digital transformation. With the market the way it is; volatile but demanding, digital savvy CIO’s have real market value. But let’s be clear, any other senior leader who ‘gets digital’ and has reasonably well honed change & transformation skills is also carrying a serious premium.  If the rest of the Board are hoping that someone will ‘do digital’ for them, not even the most compelling & charismatic digital native CIO can change, or save(!), them. 

I believe there is real truth in the phrase; “you get the CIO you deserve”. In this vein the best quote of recent weeks has been variously cited by clients and candidates as what they equally don’t want or want to be:

“…you know the sort… the sort who has three answers to deflect any question?  In any order ‘No’, ‘£1million’ and ‘next year’…”

Pleasingly the unanimous verdict has been words equivalent to (often more vernacular); “ oh crumbs… not one of those…”. Substantive IT leaders must bring more than a strong functional perspective. Senior management teams, executive leadership teams, Boards alike all need a commercial leader who can shape, influence and challenge through and with IT & Digital.

Reporting lines are broadly important to some, but the debate has moved on. CEO reporting lines imply status, but it’s the freedom to work freely across this community, driving, shaping and owning the outcomes of digital and/or IT enabled business transformation, which really gets the best performance from anyone. Box in IT leaders to simply owning ‘stuff with plugs’ and you are unlikely to ever see the rewards of doing things differently. 

Matt Cockbill leads the IT Leadership and Change & Transformation Practices for Berwick Partners. 


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Mark Duckett at 03/11/2016 12:06 said:

An interesting article which I suspect only scrapes the surface of the dilemma facing the organisation that feels the need for Digital Transformation. Often the search is for someone that can put right the legacy systems to create the illusion of digital transformation. The real strength of the candidate is to create a new solution whilst maintaining the business as usual function and then deliver an emerging digital strategy that feeds on its own success thereby gaining more and more momentum until this becomes the business as usual approach. These people are out there so keep looking.

Matt C at 11/11/2016 15:48 said:

Mark - thanks for taking the time to comment. Your point is spot on - systems are often the veil drawn over digital transformation. Cutting through this and really holding an organisation to account is a critical skill.

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