There has never been a better time to be an IT professional or leader. Some may think that is a crazy statement with all the changes, challenges and adaptations that are required today, but it also provides for the greatest opportunities and ability to make a contribution to your organisation.
To take advantage of this opportunity, the rules have changed and the skill sets required are not what they used to be. There’s a new roadmap to be followed on today’s IT transformation journey.
To be effective in this new world, we must focus on developing tech talent and culture as the critical elements necessary for success. Of course, many of us know this, but what can we do about it? What skills do we need and in what order do they need to be addressed?
CIOs that my organisation has worked with say there are now 12 critical core skills that need to be present in the members of their team and only one of those skills is technical.
The other 11 are:
- Enabling change
- Change leadership
- Strategic focus
- Consensus building
- Organisational understanding
- Problem solving
- Business acumen
- Project management
- Client orientation
All of these skills are required in team members at all levels but the amount required would vary. For example, a senior director would require higher levels of influencing skills than a coder. However, a coder would still need to have some level of influence in their interactions with others.
It is these skills that will allow your team to effectively navigate the journey up the IT maturity curve.
A CIO of a leading insurance firm recently told us that only two of his 500 staff had these skills. The heads of IT at an Australian university also told us that it’s hard to find people with these skills.
For vacant positions, they currently receive an average of 49 applications, of which 45 are technically qualified, but only 5 are suitable due to this skill gap. If you haven’t realised it yet, the skill gap is here and it is not going away.
Additionally, it is not just the skills that have changed but it also the map of the journey we are on. The IT maturity curve is also evolving. More specifically, the new level that has now been identified and added is that of being an ‘innovative anticipator.’
IT organisations are now required to move from that of a typical ‘IT service provider’ to being a ‘strategic partner’ and then beyond to being a high performing ‘innovative anticipator.’
Moving IT up the maturity curve
Stage 1: IT is viewed simply as a supplier or order taker
Stage 2: IT is viewed as an element to be brought into and considered in the process of an initiative
Stage 3: IT is a true partner and ‘at the table’ in projects, strategy, and initiatives
Stage 4: IT is out in front of the business driving solutions and initiatives that are progressing and enhancing business strategy.
When presented with this model of the maturity curve, the majority of organisations said their organisations fall somewhere between stage 1 and stage 2. One metric that can be helpful in identifying where you are on the curve is when there is a new business initiative.
If you are brought into the fifth meeting on the initiative, you would be at stage 2. If you are viewed as a true partner and in the first meeting, you are at stage 3. If you are calling, running, and leading the meeting, you are at stage 4. If you’re not being told about meetings, you’re unfortunately at stage 1.
At what stage would you currently place your organisation? Of course you will have members of your team at all levels of the curve, but where would the overall organisation sit, and what would be the benefit available if you could shift your entire team up the curve?
In part II of this series next month, we will break down the stages and look at which skill gaps need to be addressed to successfully gain admittance and navigate to the next stage.
Lou Markstrom is the co-author of Unleashing the Power of IT: Bringing People, Business, and Technology Together, published by Wiley as part of its CIO series. Lou is currently the Professional Development Specialist for DDLS.