Change is hard. The forces driving business transformation don’t care. But for organizations where employees remain hostile or, at best, ambivalent to change --i.e. most of them--there is hope: The CIO.
The behavior needed to support transformation--collaboration, teamwork, creativity and other buzzwords that have launched a billion business books--are the same ones that thrive within digital organizations, says Graham Waller, research vice president at Gartner Inc. CIOs can and need to make a big impact.
But the tool that most needs upgrading is not software. It’s that soft squishy thing, between the ears, Mr. Waller says. It’s the mind, or, to be more specific, the mindset, the unseen processes that automatically turn on and off in response to a task or a situation. Think fight or flight, a response that taps the reptilian recesses of the brain. Or think about how you feel when tasked with learning Python overnight to keep up with the 22-year-old new hire. Same thing.
In the world of digital transformation, there are two mindsets: The fixed and the growth-oriented. Think a fixed mindset would be willing to run the risk of failure jump-starting an AI pilot for the human-resources department? Think again.
The growth mindset is looking for opportunities, said Mr. Waller. Failure is tolerated, indeed it’s considered “inevitable for growth.” Add to that an outlook that is open to high uncertainty, welcoming towards teamwork and collaboration, and willing and able to take the risks and ideate into the night and early morning, and Mr. Waller is talking about a mindset made to thrive in the digital transformation.
Now back to the CIO’s role. What’s the best way to get people on board? No, let’s tweak that. What does one do in any situation to get a fast response with a minimum of effort? You hack it. To change mindsets, CIOs need to become cultural hackers.
There are four rules of cultural hacking, according to Mr. Waller. There must be an emotional connection. Data may be the new money, but until the robots take every job, emotional connections are more powerful than rational arguments. Hacks also need to trigger immediate results. They need to be highly visible, too. And lastly, they must be low-effort because it’s a hack, duh.
But first, before hacking others, hack thyself. Mr. Waller posed a simple exercise: Consider how often in a week you catch yourself thinking with a fixed mindset. With that awareness, CIOs can start hacking, but they must be clear about the traits they are hacking toward. Consider the following examples cited by Mr. Waller.
To encourage employees to make decisions: A CIO at a health organization created a points system in which direct reports earned two points for every decision made. They would lose a point if it turned out to be a bad decision, but they still ended up being one point ahead.
To support collaboration: A public sector CIO asked direct reports to name someone on their team who did something in regards to collaboration. Another direct report was asked to congratulate that person in public. “Over a period of time they start recognizing great people across the organization,” said Mr. Waller.
To allow employees to be vulnerable: An executive at an automobile company, to communicate with staff worldwide, created a quick, unproduced one-minute video.
To promote creativity and collaboration: A CIO in the oil and gas industry asked direct reports at meetings to share a key problem they didn’t have an answer for. Cue discussion.
As part of a cultural hack, CIOs should not forget to flip the language. Instead of “fail fast,” make it “learn fast.” Replace “here we go!” with “here we grow!”
Source : https://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2018/10/17/cio-hack-thyself-for-digital-transformation/