Many thanks to Jeff Ton for inviting us to the CIO Network luncheon last week!  We enjoyed the engaging conversation around IT’s place at the strategic table, what makes for a wonderful organization (and what contributes to a not-so-wonderful one), and how leaders shape culture by example.

Some of the comments reminded me of a recent post by Ian Borges at the Semco Style Institute, titled “Treating People Like Adults.”  He warns against companies trusting more in rules than in their people, which is a “best practice” leftover from the industrial era.  Why is formulaic rules-based culture problematic?  Because it kills creativity, which is absolutely critical to innovation, adaptability, and problem-solving.  Ian says it well:

People who go about their jobs mechanically cannot be expected to be engaged with it. For people to really connect with the work they do and be responsible about how they deliver on targets, the workplace needs to be like a laboratory: An unpredictable, yet safe space, where employees feel like they’re on a meaningful quest for knowledge and discovery.

Particularly in the IT world, change comes fast.  It is imperative, therefore, that IT have a seat at the strategic table.  And that they exercise their voice while there.  It is equally important for IT departments to be imbued with freedom to move beyond the “this is how it’s always been done” mentality, and work to bring continuous improvement through creative problem-solving.

IT belongs at the strategic table.  CIO’s, be ready to engage the conversation around market position, competitive advantages, and enabling assets.

When an organization cycles yet again into the realm of strategic level-setting, IT’s vision for the digital component must be represented.  To omit that vision is to invite disaster.  Even more, extending freedom to CIO’s and their teams as a sources of innovation and creative direction for the organization will invite priceless insight.