In the last couple of weeks, I have met with and had telephone inquiries with a variety of Gartner clients about a variety of topics – including strategy, mergers and acquisitions and benefits realization – but the underlying theme is change.
We tend to think of our businesses’ core capabilities as being the main value chain processes, e.g. the ability to design mobile phones, the ability to sell cars. But when the level of change is high, the ability to manage and thrive through change becomes a core competence in and of itself.
This doesn’t just mean being able to execute standard change management processes, it means different things to different enterprises, but tends to be a combination of the change discipline itself, and various forms of agility, including process scalability and flexibility, communication and transparency.
Given the levels of change expected over the next couple of decades, with globalization, energy-related changes, some powerful technology changes (e.g. the real-world web, ubiquitous, high speed connectivity) – being able to change may be the only sustainable advantage. “The Only Sustainable Edge” by Hagel and Seely Brown argues that ultimately the only sustainable edge is the ability to partner with others – ideally including enterprises that are very different from your own – and learn from them, coining the wonderful term “productive friction”.
The real question is, as CIO, what does this mean to your role. For some, it may mean evolving to become Chief Change Officer, since IT tends to be a significant part of almost every major enterprise transformation, working on change tends to be a bigger part of the CIO’s role than other business leaders’, CIOs are used to operating across power silos (rather than within them), and IT often has the most well developed change function (PMO etc.)
If you see that as a potential direction of travel for your CIO role, it is worth investing some time thinking about the implications for skills, relationships and positioning.