Earlier today I read a post, courtesy of a colleague sharing on LinkedIn, within which an industry commentator observed that they were seeing CIO's being elevated to the board. I confess I was taken aback. I had hoped this battle was almost entirely won; CIO’s accepted as the ‘whole enterprise’ senior leaders they are, not side-lined as functional experts. It strikes me that if CIO’s aren't working at this level already, then we have one or both of the following issues; the wrong CIO or the wrong CEO!
Sensibly not all roles carrying a ‘C’ title can sit at the very top tier. The suite of 'C' roles spawned from IT & Digital alone is beginning to make for an increasingly cluttered boardroom. Think Chief Officers of; Information, Technology, Digital, Data, Analytics, Product or Customer. Adding an extra four foot of mahogany to the boardroom table won’t work - there simply isn’t room for them all. While some corporate structures may mean these roles cannot be within the Ex-Co, it is important that the CIO (or equivalent) is positioned firmly at the heart of the operating Board.
With that positioning must come the 'right to roam'. The CIO must have freedom of access across a business in order to shape, inspire, drive and deliver change & transformation. The article was focused upon Enterprise Agility. It is this ability, and trust in, the CIO which enables them to act as the agent for driving 'enterprise agility'. The ability to engage and shape expectations at every level is a critical part of the contemporary CIO’s make-up. Borrowing others words, the ability to ‘work up and down the ladder’ and cope with the ‘grind and the great’ are critical in the mindset of an agile leader. However, enterprise agility rapidly becomes a fool’s errand without complete buy-in and participation from CEO and Board peers. From top down people must understand the benefits to both 'me' and 'we' for adopting transformational ways of working!
From my observations, ‘agile’ is not essential to transformation, but enterprise agility is a critical component of successful change adoption. Change leaders, of every genre not just CIO’s, must be multi-faceted in their approach to delivery across systems, process business and people change disciplines. The ability to coalesce people into effective change delivery & adoption is essential, and in turn is essential to successful agile delivery.