I just ran across an article titled “The CIO balancing act: agility, innovation, cost savings” over on The Enterprisers Project. If you haven’t stumbled across The Enterprisers Project in the past, make sure to add it to your daily routine (RSS feeds, twitter, etc etc) as there is always some great content over there.
In “The CIO balancing act: agility, innovation, cost savings“, the author writes that the CIO maintain “a delicate balancing act… between institutional (or corporate) agility, innovation, and cost savings. The CIO has to ‘get’ all three and maintain the appropriate balance.”
There is no argument that the CIO must be able to balance agility, cost savings and innovation. The challenge for today’s CIO is maintaining this particular balance while moving much faster than many IT groups have ever had to move. Most CIO’s have had to balance similar priorities in the past but the idea of ‘agility’ was much different in previous years than it is today. Today, a business can’t wait six months for a new server to be provisioned and made ready…that server is needed tomorrow.
That’s why this particular balancing act is so important. Without agility, the innovative thinking, technology and systems that come out of the IT group might not do a company much good. Without delivering that innovation in a cost effective manner – and delivering it with agility – the CIO and IT group may find themselves pushed to the sidelines.
One thing to note about the term ‘agility’ – we aren’t always talking about speed here. Of course speed is important but agility also covers the ability to get things done. While a company may be able to move fast, if their processes get in the way of that getting things done then all you are doing is moving fast to sit still while you wait for your processes to catch up with everything.
Take the provisioning of a server for example. It may take you only an hour to set up a server but if the processes needed to get that server ordered, installed and assigned to a project is so laborious that it chews up days, what good is having a provisioning time of an hour doing for that business?
Maintaining the balancing act as a CIO requires the ability to look at every aspect of your team and its processes to ensure bureaucracy doesn’t get in the way of the priorities of the business. Part of being a good leader and manager is understanding what the organization needs from you and your team and then making sure that those needs are met by your team. Those needs might change tomorrow, next week or next month but as long as the CIO and their leadership team are in sync with each other and with the organization, the ability to maintain the delicate balance should remain.