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For CIO leadership, as with the rest of company operations, it’s out with the old and in with the new for businesses attempting to navigate the new digital era.

HBR Analytic Services has set out a list of new CIO leadership rules for the increasingly influential company CIO position, one which is often expected to define the way forward for companies looking to navigate the new digital environment.

With each new rule juxtaposed against an old one, these new ways of doing business are the revised ways of approaching problems and doing business in what’s become a highly disruptive environment.

Old Rule: Listen to Customers

New Rule: Take Customer-Centricity to the Next Level

It’s an old adage that ‘The Customer is King’ and that any business needs to keep its customers happy in order to retain them and its income flow. However, HBR posits that the new digital business really needs to take this thinking to the next level and involve customers proactively (italics). CIOs need to act quickly and decisively, and really engage customers in the actual planning stages of products and services instead of trying to mold customers around existing product and service offerings.

Old Rule: Manage Projects

New Rule: Manage Products and Value Streams

Project management refers to projects which have defined startings and endings. Whilst project management can still be a valid and effective approach to getting things done within an organization, HBR proposes a more continuous and flowing management style, one where teams take ownership of a product or service for its entire lifecycle.

In this way, teams get to know products and services (the main income-generating component of the business) intimately and are better placed to answer customer queries and develop new responses to potentially disruptive influences. Teams take ownership of a product or service for its entire lifecycle.

Old Rule: Use Agile for New Development

New Rule: Use Agile and Lean Methods Wherever Possible

Agile methodology is utilized most often in the software development environment, and assists teams in responding to the unpredictability of constructing software, using incremental and iterative work sequences. But it’s a great attitude to adopt company-wide as well. In a fast-moving digital environment, it pays to have an integrated strategic and operational methodology which can react quickly to disruptive external and internal environment changes.

Old Rule: Get Details Right the First Time

New Rule: Empower People to Experiment; Learn from Failure

With the old work paradigm, managers and employee were expected to get things right first time. However this tends to create a culture which is stifling to innovation and creativity, one where employees feel nervous to make mistakes. In empowering people to experiment and removing the expectation for perfection, an attitude of innovation can flourish, one which is more conducive and adaptable to disruptive change.

Old Rule: Manage Contracts and Vendors

New Rule: Elevate Your Tech Game – As a Builder or Orchestrator

In theory there’s little wrong with managing contracts and vendors, provided that the work delivered is of satisfactory quality and timeous. The new rule however suggests that CIO leadership becomes more involved in the technologies with which they surround themselves, either building tech strength in-house or orchestrating the capabilities of third-party providers to deliver something powerful and unique.

Old Rule: Collaborate

New Rule: Coauthor

Again calling for a deeper level of partnership and integration, HBR urges businesses to ‘go beyond collaboration and alignment to co-author ideas and co-create solutions’.

Old Rule: Staff for Stability

New Rule: Make Adaptability Your Team’s New Power Skill

Whilst previous company structures emphasized stability through jobs for life and very defined employee roles and responsibilities, the new paradigm calls for an attitude of flexibility and adjustability within organizations and amongst employees. These attributes need to be built into every area of the organization, not just the IT component, and employees need to be empowered and encouraged to learn new skills and take on fresh roles and responsibilities.