Forgive the Vidal Sasoon reference, but that old advertising
tagline sure made a good point. A partnership is only successful
if the customer is happy with the outcome.
In this blog series so far, we've established that strategic
partners are customer-centric, they inspire thought leadership
in themselves and in their customers, and they achieve business
innovation for their clients.
But here's what really sets them apart: they hold themselves
accountable to those values by tying their own success to the
customer's business outcomes. They share risk in a tangible way.
A lot of people can be successful when things are going well. But it takes a true
leader to create positive impact from a crisis situation – to maximize the potential
of any given challenging situation and use it to reach the next level.
In the middle of a crisis, it's natural for everyone to be in panic mode. The more
critical the business issue at stake, the higher the level of panic. But if we continue
to operate in that mode, it will make the situation worse and continue the downward
spiral, ultimately resulting in critical breakdown.
Most CIOs I know are highly creative people. They have to constantly assess new technologies, design new ways to solve problems, and manage complex implementations throughout global organizations.
Sure, there is a lot of technical knowledge behind each of those tasks. But it takes an agile mind to accomplish all of that successfully.
CIOs have traditionally been responsible for maintaining an organization’s IT machine – which means that most of a CIO’s budget is allocated to maintenance and operations. So they haven’t always been able to let their creativity run wild.
The CIO has a unique challenge among all C-level executives. More than the others, you have to strike a balance between your left brain and right brain. You have to keep the traditional IT aspects functioning at optimal levels, streamlining operations and reducing costs.
But you also have to be creative, optimistic and far-reaching, brainstorming ideas for how to stretch the business into new areas.
The phrase “strategic partner” has become so familiar that I fear it’s lost its ability to convey its own importance. Every time two companies announce a partnership, they call it strategic.
But slapping the label on it doesn’t make it so.
Here’s why being truly strategic matters: the blistering pace of change in information technology is transforming the role of the CIO. To survive, CIOs must become business strategists. To become business strategists, CIOs must be free to focus on business outcomes– not just IT outcomes – and they must have service providers that will partner with them in that endeavor.