Your working life should be a continual learning process, from your first day of employment to your inevitable promotion to the top table.
Any employee who makes the mistake of thinking they know everything is bound to fail. A good worker listens, talks and learns – and the same methods for success exist across every sector and individual business.
Take technology journalism, where novice business reporters are traditionally given the storage beat. It is a dry, technical area but any reporter who proves their worth in storage is likely to flourish at the front line of IT innovation and implementation.
The moral, I guess, is you need to do the right ground work. And the same principle holds true in the real – rather than reported – world of business technology, where CIOs are expected to put years of technical experience into practice for the benefit of the business.
Once at the top, it is easy to become sidetracked by ephemeral talk of alignment and agility – and to forget that lasting success is all about policy and process. A true technology leader recognises that the governance helping maintain day-to-day IT will not be forsaken for the more exciting areas of implementation and innovation.
The winter edition of CIO Connect magazine (from which this editorial is taken) shows that successful technology chiefs find a balance between creativity and risk-taking.
When it comes to how the CIO should develop novel techniques for intractable challenges, Marks & Spencer’s director of IT and logistics Darrell Stein says he only gets excited about business cases, sales and costs.
Change attempts are set by a business agenda, an approach echoed by Paul Forester – IT director at fashion retailer Monsoon Accessorize – who is looking to create an IT planning function to focus on innovation.
Creativity, it turns out, is only significant if it does not entail excessive risk. And that propensity for the business to cope with risk relies on the well-learned basics of policy and process.
With strong governance, CIOs are much more likely to see projects succeed. Like storage, governance has a reputation for being dry and staid. But it involves a learning process that must not be forgotten.
Tom Herbich, now director of business applications and information governance at Deutsche Bank, has spent three decades honing a unique and effective approach to compliance. In a special feature on the finance industry, Herbich offers advice which is true for CIOs across all sectors.
“You must implement solid business controls,” he concludes. “You need to know how to manage and you need to understand what is really important.” As ever, experience will see you right.