Recently I talked with two CIOs that I have worked with for years and asked about their thoughts of how they see themselves contributing to their businesses.
The role of the CIO is changing quickly. I believe that a CIO must transform oneself into a CBIO – Chief Business Information Officer. Ironically, as I was writing this paper I read an article in Computerworld titled, “Does adding a few letters after the letters C-I-O make a difference?” The basic jist of the article is that SVP or title equivalent after the letters “CIO” purportedly makes a difference in the way the business sees the CIO. Well I am not sure if this is true, because being a CIO at this level probably starts in your head first before it makes its way onto the title, but what is certain after talking to a group of three CIOs recently is that two things need be believed by you first before making this transition:
- You must believe that you can make a difference in your business. You believe that you are not just a cog in the wheel of the business, but that you offer real and distinct value to the business beyond the plumbing infrastructure.>
- You must believe that the products your business makes and sells are outstanding and you get motivated by them and can wrap your heart and soul around them.
One of the CIOs I recently talked with I have known for over 10 years. She was formerly the head CIO of a Fortune 50 company in the Health Manufacturing industry. She was the top CIO for all 175 sub-companies that each had a CIO. So, this means she was the head CIO for 175 CIOs…..worldwide! She believed deeply in the products that her company made, produced, and distributed. She knew they were saving lives. She told me recently, “any CIO can be passionate about their company’s products. You can always find a fresh perspective, motivation, and inspiration in your business if you look hard enough.”
Another good friend is the CIO of a company that makes medicine to help people who are receiving new lungs. His company is revolutionizing this industry and he is fired up and energized to be a part of the innovation process. He and I talked extensively about innovation and the importance of percolating ideas that bring aliveness and freshness to your business. Ideas pop into your head constantly but you don’t make them important and so you don’t capture them. We both had read the book Abundance: by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. This book is a wonderful example of how you can read about topics related to our world that expands your perception about what is possible for businesses. He shared with me that the CEO of his company authorized executives to go to Peter Diamandis’ University called Singularity University. His CEO spent $12k per executive for him and other top executives to attend a week long executive session at Singularity. Do you think that he is a different contributor to his business and his life after attending a conference like this?
My CIO of 175 CIOs shared with me how one of the women that she was mentoring was complaining to her that others are always stealing her good ideas in important business meetings. My friend was curious about this and questioned her further. “If you’re saying that you actually have the same idea as the man who presented the idea when did you have the idea first?” Her mentee answered, “It was a hunch in my stomach, but I didn’t want to say anything for fear of………blah blah blah.” The essence here is that she had the idea but didn’t trust herself expressing it. Ideas can come in a flash and a hunch and present themselves as a subtle sensation. You have to trust these sensations more than you trust your fear.
Lastly, the CIOs I know and love are passionate about the business. What does this mean? Passion means that you actually know and understand so much about your products and services that you can sell them yourself if you needed to. If your company grew sales and profits who benefits? Have you thought about the entire ecosystem of benefit? If you visualized who is benefitting…..it helps you grasp the indirect and direct web of contribution that is involved with your business doing well. Here is a quick list of 7 potential beneficiaries of you helping bring results to your business:
- Your direct customers because you can deliver better products and services to help more people and companies accomplish your businesses mission. Why do your customers win? What value do they receive?
- Your direct customers because you are financially stronger. What does your financial strength mean for your customer?
- The local labor force because you are employing more people. A healthy vibrant labor force is good.
- Stock holders and other equity constituents
- Employees who receive bonuses and other remuneration from the businesses success.
- Potentially a worldwide supplier base in developing and emerging countries are receiving benefit from your business doing well due to supplier relationships.
- Local vendors.
Others than you can think of?