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Was Charles Dickens a CIO at Heart?

Was Charles Dickens a CIO at Heart?
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Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There's no better rule.” Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

All business executives expect innovation. The question is how you’re making sure you’re not missing – and, instead, supporting - activities that have proven to produce top-line growth. Driving innovation is one way to fuel growth, whether it’s taking the business digital or knowing what the customer wants before they want it. Supporting business priorities is also top-of-mind. It’s more important now – than ever – to be deliberate and strategic about your customers. It’s the only way you’ll break through the noise and chaos created by your competitors.

Your customers have expectations … but the business sometimes has “great expectations” – they overshoot. Luckily they have you to organize, prioritize, and plan how they’re going to execute strategy according to their (sometimes lofty) goals. When taking on a transformation project, how are you making sure that your customers’ expectations are not getting cast aside to help cut costs, increase shareholder value, or meet regulatory requirements?

Conceiving of, and then starting, a transformation project can be cumbersome and might tempt you to lose some focus on your customer. To make sure you’re on the path to success, you must have accurate, relevant information at your fingertips (so you can make decisions based on evidence), and your team needs to have the right people in place.

Let’s look at characteristics to achieve this – because it’s not just about having the right skills, it’s about knowing how to use them in the context of the business.

  • Situational awareness

Identify the people who are great at taking their work environment into consideration. Having people who can apply the bigger picture to a project is critical to how effective the project will be upon completion. This big picture view helps all players to understand the relevance of their role and facilitates communication between departments and up to the executive team.

  • Understanding of strategy

Before any project is started, the strategy needs to be applied to the intended business outcome. Who on your team can define this connection – and ensure that the steps taken are in line with the strategy?

  • Knowledge of organizational intricacies

Knowing the ins-and-outs of inter- and intra-department connections and the impacts that each has on one another is a key component when embarking on large projects, such as digital transformation. Not only is this valuable for gathering data and finding the right people to talk to when you need something done - but it also helps you build a business case for decision makers because you can clearly identify the impact that the transformation project(s) will have on other parts of the business.

  • Rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty

Find that person who is willing to tear open the box and dig through the contents – no matter how messy it is. That’s right – permission to get dirty. But, on the other hand, being meticulous and critical are important characteristics, and knowing the details, or knowing how to find the relevant details when you’re digging, are the exact traits needed to execute on a large transformation project.

With these characteristics, project teams can be sure to start off on the right foot. Now, let’s think about what the team will need...

  • The people-process-technology trifecta: Knowing how to adapt the inner-workings of the how the organization is impacted by change is a great way to provide guidance on how it will affect the fabric of the business landscape. Even if the change seems like it’ll have little impact, knowing the people it will affect, the processes it will impact, and the technologies required to support it will significantly increase the chances of the change having a positive effect on business operations.
  • Identifying who’s right for the job: Assessing your team’s skills in the context of the transformation project is critical. First, identify what types of skills are needed to get the job done. Next, pinpoint any existing resources that match these required skills. Now that you’ve identified what you have and what you need, you can map the skills to key roles necessary to support transformation.

*Bonus! Now that you’ve identified these skills, you can more easily plan for training, future staffing requirements, and managing resource rotation that is required to help support different projects/processes across the organization.

By outlining these characteristics and identifying what skills are needed to support transformation projects, it’s now easier to assess your company’s strategy, strengths and weaknesses in the context of its resources – and the opportunities and risks associated with transformation initiatives - as well as other projects. You can’t assume that a skill exists on the team because of someone’s job title. It’s about the unique expertise and skillset they bring to the table – what have they identified as their strengths? Like Dickens said, take everything on evidence.

And that, my friends, is how Dickens would have done it.

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Occasional Contributor

Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There's no better rule.” Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

All business executives expect innovation. The question is how you’re making sure you’re not missing – and, instead, supporting - activities that have proven to produce top-line growth. Driving innovation is one way to fuel growth, whether it’s taking the business digital or knowing what the customer wants before they want it. Supporting business priorities is also top-of-mind. It’s more important now – than ever – to be deliberate and strategic about your customers. It’s the only way you’ll break through the noise and chaos created by your competitors.

Your customers have expectations … but the business sometimes has “great expectations” – they overshoot. Luckily they have you to organize, prioritize, and plan how they’re going to execute strategy according to their (sometimes lofty) goals. When taking on a transformation project, how are you making sure that your customers’ expectations are not getting cast aside to help cut costs, increase shareholder value, or meet regulatory requirements?

Conceiving of, and then starting, a transformation project can be cumbersome and might tempt you to lose some focus on your customer. To make sure you’re on the path to success, you must have accurate, relevant information at your fingertips (so you can make decisions based on evidence), and your team needs to have the right people in place.

Let’s look at characteristics to achieve this – because it’s not just about having the right skills, it’s about knowing how to use them in the context of the business.

  • Situational awareness

Identify the people who are great at taking their work environment into consideration. Having people who can apply the bigger picture to a project is critical to how effective the project will be upon completion. This big picture view helps all players to understand the relevance of their role and facilitates communication between departments and up to the executive team.

  • Understanding of strategy

Before any project is started, the strategy needs to be applied to the intended business outcome. Who on your team can define this connection – and ensure that the steps taken are in line with the strategy?

  • Knowledge of organizational intricacies

Knowing the ins-and-outs of inter- and intra-department connections and the impacts that each has on one another is a key component when embarking on large projects, such as digital transformation. Not only is this valuable for gathering data and finding the right people to talk to when you need something done - but it also helps you build a business case for decision makers because you can clearly identify the impact that the transformation project(s) will have on other parts of the business.

  • Rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty

Find that person who is willing to tear open the box and dig through the contents – no matter how messy it is. That’s right – permission to get dirty. But, on the other hand, being meticulous and critical are important characteristics, and knowing the details, or knowing how to find the relevant details when you’re digging, are the exact traits needed to execute on a large transformation project.

With these characteristics, project teams can be sure to start off on the right foot. Now, let’s think about what the team will need...

  • The people-process-technology trifecta: Knowing how to adapt the inner-workings of the how the organization is impacted by change is a great way to provide guidance on how it will affect the fabric of the business landscape. Even if the change seems like it’ll have little impact, knowing the people it will affect, the processes it will impact, and the technologies required to support it will significantly increase the chances of the change having a positive effect on business operations.
  • Identifying who’s right for the job: Assessing your team’s skills in the context of the transformation project is critical. First, identify what types of skills are needed to get the job done. Next, pinpoint any existing resources that match these required skills. Now that you’ve identified what you have and what you need, you can map the skills to key roles necessary to support transformation.

*Bonus! Now that you’ve identified these skills, you can more easily plan for training, future staffing requirements, and managing resource rotation that is required to help support different projects/processes across the organization.

By outlining these characteristics and identifying what skills are needed to support transformation projects, it’s now easier to assess your company’s strategy, strengths and weaknesses in the context of its resources – and the opportunities and risks associated with transformation initiatives - as well as other projects. You can’t assume that a skill exists on the team because of someone’s job title. It’s about the unique expertise and skillset they bring to the table – what have they identified as their strengths? Like Dickens said, take everything on evidence.

And that, my friends, is how Dickens would have done it.