Kaoru Ishikawa was a Japanese academic who advanced the notion of quality in part based on the work of the renowned US quality consultant W Edwards Denning. He graphically depicted cause and effects in what many may remember as the fishbone diagram.
In essence the diagram highlighted that a given outcome is impacted by:
Whilst this model was designed for a manufacturing environment and a different set of causes are identified for service companies, I think this model provides a framework around which CIOs can increase their influence.
As a CIO it is worth asking the question, what results am I looking to achieve? Such results may relate to:
All of these are important, but it is likely that they are constrained to IT matters. Of course it is important to run your factory efficiently and effectively. But do you really want to be the factory manager, particularly when it is fashionable to migrate IT factories into the cloud?
By focusing on results that are strategically relevant to the organisation as a whole, your role will similarly become more strategically relevant. As will your department.
So the key point here is to look at the key performance targets of the organisation and look at what you can do to influence the causes listed above that will tilt the probability towards a successful outcome.
We are acutely aware of the users and their increasing defiance in respect of corporate technology standards. This is part of a broader sea change in which the talent and not the leaders drive the organisation. We have to get used to having a challenging client and establish a service ethic that meets their needs.
The user experience is again in vogue and today this means supporting multiple devices. It is recommended that you embrace this and learn to cope with rather than control this reality.
Talent is expensive and thus the organisation needs to sweat it to full effect. Here is an opportunity for you to implement collaboration tools that facilitate the synaptic connections taking place in one genius's head with those of all the other geniuses within and beyond the organisation.
In the digital economy this will be more than a nice to have.
I have always maintained that nobody knows the business processes like the IT function, so it seems obvious to me that there is an opportunity to provide process consultancy to the business.
Now that innovation needs to be woven into the fabric of the organisation, it is a good time to pull up the process drains and replace them with a model that better fits a highly mobile workforce working in a volatile economy.
21st century business equipment is the IT function's stock in trade. Only now the users are driving the agenda. Again this needs to be embraced and risk managed in respect of what degree of freedom the users should have given the associated business benefits and risk.
The key point is that the decision to embrace increased technology risk needs to be taken by the senior management team and not abdicated to you.
Of course the user devices will deliver limited business value unless they provide access to the tools users need to undertake their role. Thus our ability to contribute to the strategic outcomes necessitates us investing time in the datacentre, application maintenance and partner relationships.
Life used to be easier when the user environment from a technology perspective sat on a platform called a desk secured by technology called a building. Today work is wherever the worker is so their environment cannot be dictated by the IT function or, in most cases, even the business.
Mobility is an emerging theme for the IT function. It is not a new one as we spent many years suppressing the use of those so called PDAs / rogue devices within the organisation. The Blackberry tsunami put pay to that.
So we have to provide a mobile capability that:
• Promotes productivity.
• Ensures availability.
• Meets the security needs of the organisation.
What is more, this has to be achieved in the context technology consumerisation. This is a significant challenge.
In the digital economy the raw material is data and the refined material is information. CIOs are typically no strangers to data management, but the emerging interest in information through such trends as business intelligence and the misnamed big data, are challenging us to think about what data needs to be captured in order to deliver business-relevant information to the users.
As I have mentioned many times in the past, the ‘I’ in CIO stands for Information and not IT for a reason.
I believe this approach provides us with a manageable framework that focuses our attention beyond keeping the datacentre running and thus increases our organisational relevance.
CIOs are typically working on all of these, but they are lost in a fog of other distracting matters. Some of these are proactively pursued by the IT function and some have been thrust onto our agenda because of major shifts in the market.
I would encourage you to move into a proactive mode with all 5 areas and to ensure that your people follow suit. Most importantly ensure that your senior management team are fully aware of your quality-oriented and results focus approach.