3 ways CIOs can adapt to the new normal

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The CIO role is no longer a steady state. Technology and digital disruption are changing our roles and our industries so rapidly, it's increasingly harder to keep up. It requires a mindset shift to stay relevant and innovative while in this state of constant flux. If CIOs want to remain adaptable, I think they need to hone three essential skills.

1. Think like an entrepreneur. We’re going to have to stop using the word “disruption,” because technology change is going to become less and less disruptive. Change is becoming the new normal, and it's going to keep happening at an accelerated rate. The only way to cope is to become very agile on our feet. We’re going to have to keep up with the trends while also understanding that the trends are just an indicator of where the market may shift. It's like trying to watch the stock market in that you can't fully predict what will happen tomorrow. CIOs will need to think like an entrepreneur in order to stay nimble and responsive to new trends, however they may shift.

2. Be in a constant state of learning. We must maintain a constant hunger for the information that will drive our businesses forward. We can’t get too comfortable with anything that we have learned in the past; that was yesterday, and tomorrow will bring a new unknown – be it the Internet of Things or a security breach or a skill gap you never knew you needed. This requires CIOs to be in constant startup mode. They have to be comfortable with failing, because they’re going to have to experiment more frequently as new digital trends emerge. That means CIOs will be in a test-and-learn mindset much more often than they've ever needed to be in the past.

3. Communicate clearly. We have to be absolute in honing our communication skills moving forward. This doesn’t mean being a slick talker. Of course, clearly verbalizing what you’re saying is important. But even more critical, CIOs must develop a distinct communication plan so their organizations are not getting confused by the influx of new technology coming into the enterprise. This is a relatively new role for the CIO, but I think it will be huge in determining a CIO's success. Going forward, CIOs must make sure that they’re communicating in a way that is helpful, authentic, and that conveys their passion along with their vision for IT.

All CIOs stand to benefit by continually improving around these three skills. Not only will they see greater achievements in their roles, but they will better position their organizations to succeed in a constantly changing digital future.

Terry Bradwell, AARP’s chief enterprise strategy & innovation officer, helps shape AARP’s future through the development of a clear enterprise strategy and a strong innovation pipeline.

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