Values and The New CIO

Values and The New CIO - IntegrityThe New CIO is a weekly article about the challenges facing today’s CIO as well as what can be done to prepare for future challenges.

As a follow-up to my Goals, Priorities and The New CIO post last week, I wanted to take some time to talk about Values and how they play into the organization and the role of CIO.

Imagine that you are the CIO of ABC Company, a retail chain focused on quick turn and logistics to make the most profit you can (think Wal-Mart…although you aren’t the CIO of Wal-Mart…or…if you are, say hi!).  Your goals and priorities are set for the year. Your team knows how to do their job and have a clear direction from the organization.

They know the Why, What, When and Where, and they have the technical knowledge to address the How.   You’re all set right? Maybe not.

Part of the What and How involve some less analytical skills than pure technical knowledge & skills.

Back to your role of CIO of ABC Company.  You set the direction and let your team go.  Do they understand the organizational values that they are expected to work under?  Do they understand your values?


What are values? I think of values as the driving force behind everything we do.  Values are the invisible ‘ether’ that guide us daily.

According to Steve Pavlina, values are:

Values are priorities that tell you how to spend your time, right here, right now.

When developing priorities and goals, the values of your organization should seep into these things, but many times they aren’t quite as noticeable as they should be.

So…if values are the driving force behind you and your organization, shouldn’t your team know what they are? Your team (and everyone within the organization) should know what the organization’s values are.  And they should be OK with living up to those values.

Back to your CIO role at ABC Company.  You’ve given a goal to your IT Contracts team to get the lowest price possible for all IT services (I know…this isn’t a SMART Goal…but bear with me).

Are the results the only thing that matter to you?  At the end of the year, how with this team be ‘graded’.  Does it matter HOW they achieved their results?  Does it matter if they’ve threatened a vendor or lied to them? Does it matter if they ‘break the rules’ to reach their goal.

Of course, everyone reading this is probably thinking “yes it matters’….but at the end of the day, can you really say it does?  If your bonus is tied to their ability to save 2% on IT costs and they reach that goal, do you care how they reach it?

You should. Scratch that. You must care.

Living the Values

Let’s take a step back.

If your organization’s values are such that lying, cheating and backstabbing is considered OK, then perhaps your IT Contracts team did live their values.   I know a few companies out there who have unwritten values such as these and would be OK with this approach.  Perhaps this type of organization and values worked in the past, but it won’t work in the future.

To stay valid and competitive in the transparent world of now (and the future), organizations and leaders must set a true set of values to live by.

You, as The New CIO, must be an example of these values (as well as your own values). It’s not enough to point to a list of values, but the organization (and you) have to live to these values daily.

If your values (or organization’s values) are based around integrity, leadership, social consciousness and agility, then by-golly, you better live those values every second of every day.  You’ve got to haveve integrity, be honest & open and do what you say you’ll do. You’ve got to be a leader and do the difficult things as well as the easy things. You’ve got to find ways for your group and organization to give back to society and to think about how your actions affect the larger society. You must be be Agile. Build strategies, systems and solutions to enable agility.

You should also push your team to live those values…and the people that can’t accept those values need to move on. In order to truly live the values, The New CIO has to clearly articulate what hey are and hold people accountable for following them.

Values & The New CIO

As I’ve said before, it’s a new world.  The New CIO has to be someone that can juggle a lot of ‘stuff’. Whether that stuff is technology or business related, they’ve got to have an underlying set of values to guide them. In today’s open (i.e., transparent) world, you’ve got to be able to state your values, live those values and ensure that your team is living them too. If In addition, you must allow your values to be seen and understood by the rest of the organization.

If you don’t articulare your values and live them, your team, vendors, customers and the world will soon notice.  You can save that 2% in IT spend, but at what real cost?

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