Jody Davids, the former CIO of Best Buy, recognizes that IT is in the unique position of being able to watch for business opportunities, trends, and cultural issues as a result of all the areas of the business being funneled through IT. It is thus up to CIOs to understand how important their input is to the company and be able to articulate these myriad insights for the other executives who could benefit from them. Leslie Jones, the CIO of Motorola Solutions, says CIOs need to be able to think like general managers so that they focus on the practicality of technology advancement over technology for technology’s sake. As Jones says, “We are in the business. Our field just happens to be IT.” The other piece of advice offered by Jones is to remember that project failure is not the end of the world, so go ahead and push the limits with projects, since the worst that will happen from failure is that a good learning experience will be gained.
When it comes to finding solutions for problems, Jim Sistek, CIO of Visteon Corporation, goes back to the words of his old boss, who would say, “I‘m going to answer this question in a way that it never has to be asked again.” Following this advice, Sistek relates his experience:
When I took this job at Visteon, the company was having issues with errors in financial reporting. Everyone wanted to throw money at a new financial system. They were focused on the end state, which reporting, but they never went upstream to look at what was causing the problem. It turns out, the problem was upstream. There were pricing errors, missing PO numbers, and that kind of thing. By following problem upstream, we could focus on the beginning of the lifecycle, from when we win the business and design the parts. We decided to fix those problems first and the financial systems last. This was a very effective approach for us and it allowed us to stop wasting money.
The CIO of Qualcomm, Norm Fjeldheim, succinctly advises us to remember never to mix effort with results, and no amount of effort will prove useful if it is not targeting the right kind of results. And finally, Walter Yosafat, the CIO of Wyndham Worldwide, says to take all of the business opportunities that avail themselves, even if they might not seem appetizing at the moment they are offered. Use the advice offered by those included in the article to create your own journey to greatness.