Let us all take a step back on the history of the existence of organizational design, Organizational structures developed from the ancient times of hunters and collectors in tribal organizations through highly royal and clerical power structures to industrial structures and today’s post-industrial structures.
By simple definition, it means to arrange the human resource required to get jobs and tasks done which result in achieving the organization’s specific goals.
In our recent study done with CIO’s (Chief Information Officers) from multiple government & commercial enterprises in the Europe, APAC & Middle East markets. We have probably understood, one of the key criterion on how some technology departments are able to differentiate and create competitive advantage for their organization with a suitable design & structure for the future. At the same time are successful in keeping pace with changing times of how business is carried out today? and how technology is disrupting lives and organizations than ever?
e will list down some key observations for CIO’s & IT Managers, however some of these observations and recommendations might be bold statements, if your IT organization has not changed its design & structure for the last 4 to 5 years.
Creating an Innovation Team
One of the most common observations of successful running IT Departments is the introduction of the innovation team which directly reports to the CIO, it does not necessarily mean that a new set of people should be hired for such tasks and activities. However millennials & generation Y are a close fit to such teams. We have seen that if 20%-30% of their work time is allocated to innovative projects i.e. one project or initiative a year can create immense amount of value for the organization which can help disrupt legacy processes and workflows to save considerable amount of time for your organization. Our recommendation would be to start small with a team of 2 people who are monitored by a senior resource and are asked to create or ideate new thinking from a business to technology perspective. This will help the CIO & Business to also differentiate and create competitive advantage for your organization.
Introducing key roles for future
With the fast paced technology changing everything around us, it is also crucially important to create new roles which align business & IT departments as this has been a long standing debate and confusion among other CxO’s if IT is just a support function or a key driver for the organization.
- CDO (Chief Digital Office): Many organizations have introduced this senior role formally & informally to look at the entire organizations workings from a technology standpoint and we believe this role is here to stay for a long haul. The CDO should be closely working with the innovation team if it exists in the organization and also with other business departments to look for opportunities in introducing new technologies which can ease burden on certain processes, people and functions in the organization.
Keep in mind that this role is not just on the business card but also reflects in the mindset & KPI’s of the senior associate in your organization.
- Social Media Evangelist: We have seen some remarkable difference in the way this role is being adopted by so many commercial and government entities as it is directly impacting 2 intangible parameters:
- Demonstrating IT Organizations Culture internally & Externally.
- Attracting great talent for your IT Department.
For instance, one of the organizations in UAE has dedicated a mid-level resource who is passionate about social media & internal communication tools, whose job is to post updates internally on even a small peck of value added by the IT to business to large benefits provided by the IT department. This not only helps IT create a strong brand internally to other CxO’s but also attracts great talent from both internal & external communities associated to your organization & industry.
- Technology Broker / Business to Technology Collaborator (BTC): We all know how much IT departments love Sales & Marketing folks (Apology for the Sarcasm), however IT departments & CIO’s need to understand that they need to have this internal sales driven role, which can sell & broker their idea to the management, end users and other internal stakeholders. This role is critically important because we have observed that unfortunately, almost 90% of IT Team members do not have the knack to put their ideas across to these stakeholders, which results in hell lot of work and ‘No Approval’ in the end.
If this role is leverage properly, IT Departments & CIO’s will have less trouble is seeking approvals on hiring, budgets & projects from management, because so many times as an IT department employee we know for the fact that IT could have added immense value to the organization, but the approval process just fizzled everything to drains
- Business Insight Creator (BIC): Almost every organization is sitting on an abundance amount of data and information, but very few organizations are leveraging insights from this huge & massive data sources in order to drive business and strategic decisions for the management. BIC’s job and task is to look for historic & current data, understand decision making trends in your industry & organization, so they can help contextualize insights which can lead to great management reports and dashboards.
Candidates with an experience in market research or financial research, or in analytics and statistics are a right fit for such roles
- User Experience Facilitator (UEF): We all know what can be achieved if the users in your organization are engaged with specially your business, portal & mobile driven applications. However many organizations in our research were found struggling with user experience issues because of multiple technologies floating in the organization. A need for user experience facilitator has come up in the recent years, and the roles job is to make sure, end users are properly trained and like using the technology you as an IT department has chosen for them.
Candidates with experience in graphic design, UX/UI & Information flow are a right fit for such roles
- Flat Structures: One of the key observations from the research has been that IT departments, where structures are agile in nature depending on projects requirements are much faster and effective when it comes to decision making and probable to success respectively. For the simple fact that these IT departments work with a mind-set to achieve success rather than getting stuck in bureaucracy & complicated reporting structures.
IT departments which are flat in nature are much easier to adapt compared to long hierarchical departments
On this specific point, we would like to give our sympathies to government IT departments, where the decision making is likely not in the hands of the CIO to structure their respective teams and departments.
- Function More Important than Design: Last but not the least, it has never been about how your IT organization is structured or design, it is each organizations cultural choice and we all should be respectful about it. However a CIO & IT Manager should always insist on creating teams which are functionally powerful on each project rather than having specific teams for specific tasks.
As a CIO, you will never know which of your team member can bring a new perspective and dimension to a project unless you try and trust them on different projects and initiatives
If you can introduce one or two such changes every year, we are fairly confident that your IT department is much more probable to achieve more from less. Because the underlying human psychology is and always will be that progression equals to success for you and your team members.