Even in the quietest moments

OK, so another nod to one of the well-listened-to tracks of my student days, but an interesting introduction to some thoughts on the challenges of today’s CIO.

The song starts:

“Even in the quietest moments I wish I knew what I had to do…”

Now, I am sure there are more than a few CIOs who would wish for a few quiet moments, and still more, who wish they could predict what they had to do with accuracy.

What is clear is that CIOs, and therefore also CEOs, are facing ever more challenges of increasing complexity. Perry’s entry on this blog this week speaks of quite a number, and still more are discussed in our growing list of previous entries on this blog. For those facing up to the challenges of the IT marketplace today, it is essential that time is taken to examine the trends out there, and engage them actively within an overarching strategy. Sadly, too many executives are too busy fire fighting the challenges of delivering their current projects, or ongoing service commitments, to be able to proactively plan ahead.

My challenge to those in charge of business and IT today, is to take that time, make that time, find those quiet moments. I draw on a lot of recent experience, seeing organisations and executives within them not taking the time exercising their grey cells to plan properly. Lets face it, no thinking time means no strategy, which means no plan, which means continuing with the very reactive behavior that kills those quiet moments. Strategy is certainly something that is an ongoing activity, building time for it into the daily, weekly, monthly, and annual cycles organisation-wide, is critical to surviving the challenges of the current marketplace. Agile, successful organisations find those moments for planning and defining the way forward, and then constantly adjusting revising and updating them as the climate evolves. Successful executives are those with the vision, and perhaps, dare I say it, those that make the time to create that vision that are the most successful.

Hence, in my view, it is critical to not only make those “quiet moments” to define “what to do” but also to make sure they are applied in a structured way, using time to maximum effect. By building structure into the strategy defining approach it is possible also to reduce some of the guesswork, without losing the creative flair necessary to set a really good strategy in place.  It is certainly possible to review the portfolio of any business, and look at every component of it asking the most challenging of questions on each part, whether about cost, risk, service or benefits. Take a moment to examine all of the items in the IT portfolio, then test them against the market trends. Make sure they continue to fit the organisations objectives, not just now but over the forseeable future. Test every supplier and service, to make sure it meets the current and future needs. Watching the balance of costs and risks must be an essential part of the routine in an organisation.  Strategy is not a one-off assessment exercise, it is an ongoing assurance process that can and should be built into the organisations processes.  Perhaps, by taking a little time to put this in place, there will be quiet moments, and you will know what to do…..?