twincitiescio-orbieawards-logoI recently had the pleasure of celebrating  the 2018 Twin Cities CIO of the Year ORBIE Awards, hosted by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. I attended the event with members of the Coherent Solutions team to cheer on our customer, Mike McCullough, the CIO of Be The Match. Congratulations on your nomination, Mike!

The charismatic and insightful keynote speaker, James Dallas, retired Medtronic CIO, spoke on a topic that is near and dear to me.  He is currently consulting for large organizations on change, namely digital transformation.

One of the many take-aways I had from his talk (which received a standing ovation) was on the topic of breaking down organizational walls. One key aspect of these walls is that they’re made of glass and a CIO that is driving organizational change is at risk of getting cut.

CIO’s of large organizations often work across departments and business units as part of their organization’s structure and they certainly work across departments when trying to incite change. Mr. Dallas explained that the CIO can either break the glass walls which separate departments and risk “getting cut” or they can give the hammer to someone within their own glass walled department and influence them to break the glass themselves.

What’s required, Mr. Dallas went onto explain, is boldness and political savviness. Leaders in IT should feel confident about their ideas to improve the enterprise and be empowered to act upon them.

He shared that they should also practice prudent politics. The word “politics” shouldn’t be viewed as a dirty word in this context, but a reminder that the best method is to influence alignment and buy-in from other leaders. This way, you’ll be much less likely to get hurt from forcing your will upon others.

I really appreciated the insight from Mr. Dallas and have applied it to my efforts in business development at Coherent Solutions. I suppose almost anyone could take this lesson and think about how it could be applied to the change you’re hoping to spark within your organization.

The awards for CIO of the Year were handed out across four company-type categories. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners this year and  thank you for your influence in the Twin Cities!