7 new rules of CIO leadership: New Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Research

Learn from the transformation masters. Prominent IT chiefs reveal how they rethought leadership to increase organizational speed and supercharge cross-functional collaboration.
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Your old IT leadership playbook doesn’t cut it against digital disruption pressure from rivals and increasing demands from the CEO. CIOs helping to revamp businesses are rewriting traditional IT leadership principles. In a new Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report, “Transformation Masters: The New Rules of CIO Leadership,” you can learn the strategies they’re adopting.

In this research, more than a dozen top chief information and digital officers reveal their tactics for increasing speed and improving collaboration. The forward-thinking technology executives interviewed for this report – including CIOs from Adobe, AT&T, Cardinal Health, Toyota, Vanguard, and Walmart – are true transformation masters. 

Through these interviews, HBR identified seven new rules of CIO leadership that can help your organization improve time to insight and time to market, and speed the pace of development and delivery overall. 

Among the lessons from the report:

Call it what you want, but you better have plans to adopt (and scale) agile. “No matter what you call it, whether it’s true agile or lean, it doesn’t really matter,” says Vanguard CIO John Marcante. “It’s that concept of empowering cross-functional teams, iterating, and putting client feedback first that matters.” Learn why other teams – not just the IT organization – should adopt these methods.

Whether you DIY or orchestrate, it’s time to step up your tech game. Even if you don’t have the capital to hire thousands of engineers and digital experts, you must be able to take advantage of new technologies. At AT&T, the use of machine learning may save the company hundreds of millions of dollars during the next few years. Learn AT&T CIO Pam Parisian’s perspective on the power of microservices.

It’s time to get comfortable with tech terms like “DevOps.” Find out what happened at a Walmart executive team meeting when CEO Doug McMillon started talking about “DevOps” and someone suggested he tweak the messaging “to put it in business terms.” His response may surprise you – and give you ammunition to convince your business peers that they must also become more tech-savvy. 

Not all CIOs think about “failure” the same way. Read what leading CIOs really think of the “f” word. Then decide if you need to start using the term more or less in your organization. 

No more excuses, any leader can do this. Review the list of six practical things you can really do today to be a catalyst for change and help your business transform. Challenge yourself or your team to start crossing items off the list. 

Download the full HBR report now to learn how these transformation masters are breaking down walls, resetting expectations, and leading in a completely new model. 


Ginny Holden is an independent consultant who brings the practice of IT to life through memorable storytelling.