Transformational Leadership

Chief Innovation Officer

Lisa Ahn asked:

How do companies rate the importance of your IT dept? Is the IT dept. invisible in the organization? Does the CEO have an understanding of how technology is meeting business objectives? Do your CEO and CFO view the IT dept. as cost centers rather than profit generators? Are you having trouble communicating tech possibilities with other decision makers of the firm?

The role of the CIO as Chief Information Officer is tough and easily misunderstood. Because technology is closely tied to business results, when a million dollar technology project fails, the CIO gets the brunt of the blame while losing the trusts of the CEO and CFO. In addition, many assume that the CIO only oversees operations and technology—but this is old-school thinking. While the job descriptions of most senior executives have remained relatively stable, the CIO has evolved to have greater knowledge of business and finances. This increased responsibility places the CIO in the strategic position to facilitate business technology innovation for the entire company.

Just as technology and business strategies continue to evolve, so must also the leadership roles within an organization. The new CIO extends beyond the walls of IT and has now become a critical asset to the leadership and functions of any enterprise.

The Bridge for Biz-Tech Communication and Alignment:

The CIO is the liaison for business and technology to come together and align their strategies. Because the CIO has knowledge in both technology and business, he has the advantage of communicating clearly with all department heads. Remember, alignment brings in the money, and alignment is a skill that is more social than technical.

The C-Sidekick for Optimization:

All C-level executives are very busy, and the last thing they want to be in is a meeting about technology resources. The CIO identifies how IT saves time and energy, and proactively contributes to achieving the company’s strategic goals. You can only do this by learning the challenges and abilities of each department. Talk with the CEO and department heads, and share how IT will optimize their performances. They have to see what’s in it for them.

Visionary Business IT Leader:

The CIO is a business IT leader. You should not only focus on operations and technology performances, but should also be aware of business productivity and financial management. Always ask, “How is our technology influencing business results?”

Innovation and Revenue Powerhouse:

Under your guidance, the IT department is in charge of delivering value across the entire enterprise. What is value?—simplifying information access to save time, improving IT to meet business objectives, providing cost reductions, increasing revenues, etc. Have the IT dept. be the competitive advantage in your firm.


Conclusion: Lead the Way with an Eye for Innovation

Take note–The role of Chief Innovation Officer is not only reserved for the Chief Information Officer.

Whether you’re the president, CFO, or IT director, those in office should not be limited to traditional expectations of their roles. Rather, you want to evolve your leadership responsibilities to be a dynamic and intuitive presence at your company. Just as how corporations have abandoned hierarchical structures to become horizontal and more agile, it is the responsibility of leaders to create synergy in an organization.

Innovative officers challenge and guide the company to work more efficiently, promoting productive challenges and changes. For success, you need a leader within each department who constantly identifies opportunities for improvements, draws up the best plan and practices that produce business efficiency, and transforms a company to stand strong in today’s global market. As a leader, your ability to be dynamic while remaining committed to your business goals reflects your company’s potential for innovation.

So yes—if it helps, go ahead and give yourself that title as Chief Innovation Officer.

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