At Your Disservice
By Samuel Greengard
One of the inescapable realities of business is that most organizations aren't run particularly well. Despite endless conferences, seminars, executive leadership programs, magazine articles and blogs about what it takes to excel, a lot of companies—and CIOs—stumble, bumble and tumble.
Wolfgang Puck's pizza recipes are freely available at the chef's Website. Unfortunately, simply possessing the recipe doesn't mean that it's going to taste like Wolfgang or one of his pizza chef's baked it. There's an art and a science to pizza cookery and most of us don't have the skill level—even if we possess the recipe.
The problem is that getting really great at something—making pizzas or assembling an IT infrastructure—takes more than desire and motivation. It requires a lot of work and the right mindset. In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell writes about a need to amass 10,000 hours to get really great at something. He also points out that most success stories are a result of collaboration. People don't achieve success on their own.
How does this all relate to CIOs? For one thing, it's critical to recognize that any idea isn't outlandish—and even if it is, there might be something to glean from it. Great ideas come from anywhere and they often result from observing and listening to others that have a different perspective, position or point of view.
For another, it's vital to step off the daily treadmill and occasionally trek into a store, bank branch or factory to see what's actually going on. Better yet, do the work there for a couple of hours or a day! Likewise, put your sister-in-law or nephew in front of a computer or tablet and watch as the person places an order or attempt to resolve a problem. You might get a few real-world clues about how systems and processes work!
It's entirely obvious that many business leaders have no idea what really takes place at their Website or on their mobile app. The proof is in the number of Websites, mobile apps and retail environments that simply don't work. Orders get screwed up, customer service breaks down and seemingly simple things wind up becoming incredibly complicated.
Here's a bit of advice: Keep attending conferences, continue analyzing metrics and collecting recipes. But, at the same time, learn to think more like a great pizza chef: Feed the need, create something that's appealing and make sure the product or strategy is fully baked.