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Keeping Score

Keeping Score

Practising feedback analysis and understanding how your peers learn enhance the CIO's ability to communicate complex topics

Document how peers learn. Most CIOs interviewed said that they had long struggled with communicating complex business/technology issues to their colleagues. What became apparent to those who successfully communicated, or "taught" their colleagues about these complex issues, was a respect for how their peers consumed and internalized information.

For example, if the executive vice president of sales learns by "talking it out" rather than by reading a memo, the CIO can dramatically improve the quality of collaboration with this EVP by "talking things out".

Also understand performance types - that is, a peer's mode of working. For example, suppose the EVP of sales is a team player. If the CIO, on the other hand, learns by reading, and performs as a loner and adviser, this CIO is likely to be more successful by engaging the gregarious EVP of sales in a talking mode, one on one, as an adviser so that the EVP can make a more informed decision.

Create a matrix of key stakeholders, your understanding of how they learn, and the role they seem most comfortable playing when interacting with IT.

Document how you spend your time. CIOs have different ways of assessing how they spend their time. Most manage their time on a weekly basis:

For example, one CIO divides his time between inside and outside: 70 percent what he calls "on the inside", with his peers and committees; 30 percent "on the outside"; and a third of that with customers. He gets out and "works the hallways". He "doesn't trust written reports". He goes out and sees for himself "firsthand", spending a third of the time with his team and the remaining third (or 10 percent) of his time with vendors.

All our interviewees had one thing in common: vigilance over time management. Striking the right balance can better ensure that you are adequately honing your own skills, educating your peers, and leading your IS organization toward business contribution.

Four-Part Scorecard: IS Contributions

Generally, a CIO's reputation is built by their IS staff. If the CIO is truly to lead for contribution, he or she needs to lead for a contribution mind-set within the IS organization. CIOs can track their contribution leadership of the IS organization on a scorecard.

The project management office (PMO) was used in a number of cases to provide a collaborative environment for IT staff and business representatives. This environment provided contribution proof, mainly along the lines of time, cost and quality. It also provided independent progress reporting and expectations setting via monthly issues and problem resolutions reports.

Satisfaction surveys topped the list as a key metric, with multiple members relying on them. While this might be viewed as an operational set of metrics by most, these CIOs "read between the lines" of the survey to discern trends in staff development needs (or successes), and hence CIO leadership towards contribution.

Deliberate daily, weekly, monthly and annual staff interactions are key practices in IS staff contribution development. They also provide a key learning feedback loop for the CIO to assess what's working and what's not working from a contribution perspective.

Four-Part Scorecard: Enterprise Contributions

After considering their personal and IS leadership skills, the successful CIO focuses on enterprise contribution. Specifically, they hone in on translating IT metrics to a business contribution language, and ensure that all IT initiatives are aligned with corporate strategy.

Corporate performance management (CPM) is an umbrella term that describes the methodologies, metrics, processes and systems used to plan, monitor and manage an enterprise's business performance.

Bringing business solutions to the enterprise, whether or not they contain an IT component, is important. These solutions will most likely be business process based, and extend enterprise competitive advantage.

A clear articulation of the CIO's contribution to the bottom line serves to educate the CEO and board about the transformational value IT has brought to bear on the business.

Business performance framework: a good dialogue tool. The business performance framework provides a vehicle for IS organizations to expand the dialogue with their businesses' counterparts from purely cost reduction to revenue growth.

The framework holistically covers the controllable activities that occur in the typical enterprise.

These activities fall into three broad aspects - demand management, supply management and support services. These three aspects are further broken down into what we call aggregate measures.

For example, the aggregate measures for demand management include market responsiveness, sales effectiveness and product-development effectiveness.

Each aggregate measure breaks down further into what we call prime measures.

CIOs must demonstrate value to reap contribution. The combined use of these tools are in no way presented as some form of silver bullet, however they do provide a jump start for CIOs facing the need to demonstrate their personal and organizational contribution.

Andrew Rowsell-Jones is vice president and research director for Gartner's CIO Executive Programs

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