Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Where’s My Key to The Boardroom?

Where’s My Key to The Boardroom?

It’s no secret that most ambitious CIOs are committed to the business, but beyond keeping the lights on, some struggle to demonstrate value to the C-suite. Neither is it a secret that the C-suite want a CIO who, when in the boardroom, engages in business conversations that are rooted in value, return on investment and competitive advantage. Systems, enterprise applications and core infrastructure are vital to support business-as-usual, but they are not the stuff that business transformation conversations in the boardroom are made of.

For a deeper look into the opening paragraph, read Kenny MacIver’s piece onWhy digital disruption should propel CIOs into the boardroom with commentary from Microsoft EMEA CIO Tim Hynes.

How CIOs Can Get More Boardroom Time

CIOs need to understand business priorities and steer business leaders towards creating new value and competitive advantages by leveraging digital technology. Some do this well, while others struggle for a variety of reasons. Those that do it well help business leaders spend their money (wisely) on digitally enabled business transformation, because no business function can afford to ignore the competitive advantages that digital can create, so this kind of CIO is a breath of fresh air for digital-savvy and forward thinking business leaders.

With the right tools, leadership qualities and transformational-mindset, the CIO can educate business leaders and be seen as an enabler of innovative competitive advantage, rather than someone who only operates a cost-centre and needs to focus on slashing its overheads.

My Choice of Words

While digital transformation happens, it is part of a much bigger picture which is “business transformation”. So on times I use the term “digitally enabled business transformation” as opposed to “digital transformation”, because the latter reminds me too much of the projects and programmes of the last two decades that have suffered at the hands of people who focus on technology and not enough on people and business. If the digital era is to earn itself a positive image, it must embrace holistic business transformation approaches such as BTM², and steer clear of being scarred by the blinkered behaviour that damaged the reputation of the ERP landscape for so long.

Another choice of words involves emphasising that CIOs need to bring about business “transformation”, and not simply business “change”. Change creates fast caterpillars, whereas transformation creates butterflies, and companies need to be breeding butterflies these days.

Who Still Believes in Ice Harvesting?

For the community that still does not appreciate the need for the CIO to lead digitally enabled business transformation, an analogy that Guy Kawasaki used in his book Reality Check might help.

Guy explained that ice harvesting ended as a profession because other people with different skills brought electrical refrigeration to the home. So who would buy from the iceman after that?

This is a “what not to do” for business at-large, CEOs and CIOs today. Businesses need to transform themselves and their CIOs need help them do that with the one thing that is changing our world more than anything right now – Digital.

If people are not willing to shift their companies to becoming digital enterprises and gain competitive advantage, then they will follow in the steps of the iceman and their ice companies, melting away over the digital decade that follows.

What is The Transformation Solution?

It’s very easy for me, Gartner and others to evangelise why CIOs need to shift into transformational mode, and showcase the digital mastery of global brands such as DHL, Unilever and Nike. It’s also easy to write and talk about transformation leadership, digital technologies, and what will happen if companies fail to transform. It’s like talking about world peace – easily done.

Digital evangelists everywhere can be heard announcing; “don’t succumb to Digital Darwinism“, “speak business-language” and “the future is big data, mobile, cloud and IoT“. But other than broad sweeping statements, rarely are these sound-bytes of advice accompanied by pragmatic tools and processes that can help CIOs bring about their digital enterprise transformation.

So here are eight practical steps that technology leaders can take towards digital enterprise transformation. Steps that have already been taken inside some of the world’s leading organisations.

How do we getting started?

You need to select a strategic management toolset designed for digital transformation. No IT leader will be unfamiliar with the likes of ITIL, TOGAF, CMMI, ASAP and other tools that were designed for traditional IT, and which have served traditional IT well. Now it’s time to become familiar with the latest tools designed for transformation such as the Digital Capability Framework(DCF) and the Business Transformation Management Methodology (BTM²). DHL, Unilever and SAP are just three organisations that have leveraged the DCF and BTM², and they are also scalable to small to medium sized organisations in the way that traditional tools are. Whichever transformation tools you opt to use, make sure they do not tie you to any one consulting firm, business line or technology.

How do we know what capability we need?

Whether it’s a member of your staff or an external consultant, you need someone to guide you in leveraging transformation tools such as the DCF and BTM². Then you are ready to plan your journey and use Digital Capability Maturity Models to conduct capability assessments of your organisation’s digital enablers and digital goals. Then establish where you need to be and how to fill the gaps in innovation capability, business transformation capability and IT excellence.

How can we engage business leaders in the process?

Involve your business leaders in the process from early on. Have them review best practice Digital Use Cases with you and get deeply involved in the innovation of your own Digital Use Cases, which are the keys to their business goals and the company’s aspirations of competitive advantage. Note that Digital Use Cases are about business as-is and to-be, business benefits and value propositions.

How do I make this a business-orientated exercise?

Again you need to involve your business leaders in the analysis of the Digital Use Cases and agree the benefits, value propositions, risks, etc. Be sure to help the team use current innovation methods to look beyond the obvious capabilities of technology. Remember that digitizing existing processes is neither innovative or transformational. You need to help your business partners become butterflies, not simply faster caterpillars.

Hopefully you can already see how this is a powerful transformation process that facilitates better IT-Business collaboration, buy-in and relationships.

How do we agree a roadmap?

Once again you need to work with business leaders to prioritise Digital Use Cases and develop a digital transformation roadmap. Using the data that underpins your Digital Use Cases, you need to agree a roadmap which is agile enough to cope with future digital change and which delivers value towards achieving prioritised and a balanced portfolio of improvements across the business landscape.

Who pays for all this?

As I mentioned earlier, CIOs need to help business leaders spend their money wisely on digitally enabled business transformation. But regardless of where the budget will come from, the next step is to create persuasive business cases with your primary goal being to help people decide whether to invest sufficient resources.

The previous steps will have already secured the hearts and minds of business leaders and you will have together agreed the key information that will underpin the business cases such as value propositions and benefit profiles. If you have done this well, your business cases will be no-brainers that will secure the resources you need for the new projects and programmes. Even when you do you encounter unexpected resistance, you can count on the business leader(s) who have been part of the journey with you to fight the cause.

Select a business transformation management methodology

During the assessment stage, you will have addressed your transformation capability and the gaps that exist. BTM² is integrated with DCF to do this. It would be prudent to adopt a business transformation management methodology to underpin all your business transformation efforts. One that addresses both the rational and irrational aspects of business transformation. BTM² is a proven holistic business transformation management approach that will not tie you to any one consulting firm. It is also accompanied by training, leadership coaching and certification tracks (BTPM and GBTM) should you wish to develop your team’s transformation management and leadership capabilities.

Orchestrate new projects and programmes

By now you will not only have a best practice approach with which to manage your new transformation initiatives, but you will also have the buy-in of business leaders and adequate resources to successfully drive benefit-driven transformation. This in turn will help business leaders achieve business goals using digital technology, and enable the C-suite to see how you as a transformation leader are orchestrating return on investment and new competitive advantages “in the business”.

The Boardroom Key

What has been described in this post is not rocket science. It is however derived from extensive research, collaboration and development between leading transformation practitioners and academics. It does not need to be facilitated by a large 3rd party, a digital solution or teams of consultants, but it does require commitment to:

1. Adopt new strategic management tools such as the DCF and BTM²

2. Think long-term and avoid compromising the steps above

3. Stay focused on people and business goals as opposed to technology

Done well, this will facilitate successful digitally enabled business transformation, and is the surest way that any CIO will gain and maintain a key to the boardroom.

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Rob Llewellyn is a trusted advisor to the C-suite and one of the few certified and independent Global Business Transformation Masters in the world. Having provided professional services to some of the world's largest companies across Europe, Australia and the Middle East since the 1990s, Rob helps executives take an holistic and integrated approach to transformation using the Digital Capability Framework, BTM², and other management tools that lead organisations to achieving value-driven competitive advantages. Contact Rob via LinkedIn or or Twitter@robertllewellyn