How to Manage What’s Next – From 6 Top CIOs

Lately, the question CIOs and IT departments ask is how do I do more with less? Most of this is a response to the downturn in the economy. It’s been echoed at past CIO Boot Camps held at Interop, a conference on information technology held multiple times a year all around the world. This year, at Interop in Las Vegas, I attended the latest bug juice-induced CIO Boot Camp where the theme had changed to how can I manage for what’s next and be more competitive?

The CIO Posse at CIO Boot Camp included:

Christopher R. Barber, Former Senior Vice President of Enterprise Strategy and CIO, WesCorp
Bruce Barnes, CIO Emeritus, Nationwide Financial Services
Alan S. Cullop, Chief Information Officer, Senior Vice President, The TriZetto Group
Cheryl Smith, CIO, WestJet
Dr. Robert Rennie, VP, Technology & CIO, Florida State College at Jacksonville
Moderated by: Thornton May, Futurist, Executive Director and Dean, IT Leadership Academy

Here are their six tips on how to manage what’s next:

  1. Get under the radar – Don’t make a big deal of what you’re doing. If you create a lot of excitement throughout the organization, everyone sees every little blip, gets obsessed with it, and it bogs down the process – possibly killing it. Instead, play it down, and just report steady progress.
  2. Create a sense of the importance of the future – Today will end and there will be a tomorrow that we need to be concerned about. Get them in the mindset that “Next” is coming. If you do that, you will be seen as an influential leader within the organization, and therefore you’ll also create demand. Instruct your staff to be thinking about tomorrow, and measure their performance based on that.
  3. What are your people’s contribution to getting where we are today? – When you’re conducting employee reviews, make sure you ask that question.
  4. Create core – What differentiates you in the enterprise. Everything that isn’t core is context. With “context,” you ruthlessly manage those things to get you to the stage of “just good enough.” Core is what makes your customers pay a premium for your services.
  5. Part of leadership is choosing what not to do – Not changing things is a choice.
  6. Successful companies prepare for change – Build an “A” team, look at all your applications and pair them down to the most productive ones (20 percent of applications are probably supporting 80 percent of your business) , prepare your infrastructure (people and technology) to handle  new technologies.  You have to make room for change.