Is Blue the New Gray?

enterprise technology, CIO, leadership, digitalization
Is Blue the New Gray

A recent post in a leading enterprise technology leadership publication provoked some deep thought.

It was about how management practice needs to take a long hard look at the business and technology – essentially the enterprise leadership environment and see what needs to change. Interestingly, that long look might prompt them to change everything!

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Degrees teach about an authority driven model of management, there is the Boss, and then there are teams that follow his or her instructions. But is that how things work now – the order taking part, not the ‘his’ or ‘her’ part. Having a ‘her’ boss sitting in a technology leader’s position is quite commonplace today.

So it has to be a question on – does the work style need to flow downwards from an authority figure? Or does it need to be a collaborative approach? A marriage between experience and skills? Between essentially two worlds, or two decades, or even two centuries?

Does the Boss have any meaning in terms of absolute authority?

It would appear not!

While rapid digitalization of all enterprise processes demands preemptive strategies, faster responses, and far more agile decision-making abilities, what is the direction of those decisions? Does the CIO still need to “instruct’? Or is it better for the technology leadership to take inputs from, well, bottom-up?

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So the ability to foresee and predict situations is linked to seniority? At the end of the day, does the CIO have to be the person who champions change? Increasingly, this model is going to fail.

To be able to respond to foreseeable threats, will be a team activity- a team prediction and a team charter for change. This is not the socialist ideal of a team, but the idea of a team that consists of experts from various relevant fields. The orders will no longer be top-down but flowing from a team that is equipped to provide responses to challenges they can preempt from the future. Of course, that needs superior ability- it’s just that this ability is not necessarily sitting on the leadership position.

Orders to be ready and how to be ready do not need to flow from the corner office anymore, but maybe from the CoEs, or the research labs, or development centers, or even the shop floor.

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Expertise and leadership come from many sources, today. It may not be defined by designations or degrees, and in the near future, not even by age.