Re-examining Priorities for CIOs & CTOs: Personal Development – Constantly Improving and Iterating

There is no denying that the last year has been one of constant change. Technology is constantly improving and iterating. Those responsible for technology must do the same. 

For CIOs and CTOs without a growth mindset, it may have been an especially excruciating year. Growth mindset helps CIOs and CTOs rise to challenges and see failures as opportunities to do better. 

How CIOs and CTOs Get Growth Mindset Wrong

A Gartner study highlights the ways that CIOs and CTOs can get growth mindset wrong. These are, of course, the approaches to avoid as you re-examine your priorities and personal development. 

The biggest blunders include demonstrating bias toward high potential employees, giving more attention and opportunity to those who already perform well. Cultivating a team of all-stars might lead to a small pocket of perfection, but it leaves teamwork and improvement behind. It is also a bad move to value outcome over everything else, leaving out problem-solvers with creativity and initiative.

Overall, CIOs and CTOs uncomfortable with failure will have a hard time reaching new levels of success. Dealing with challenges, learning from failure, and coming out on top is critical to innovating within your organization.

Why Does Professional Development and Growth Mindset Matter?

For CIOs and CTOs, growth mindset promotes and enhances IT’s ability to respond to change. One CIO says that habit makes for poor procedure and worse policy, a big downside of a fixed mindset. By adopting a growth mindset with a focus on improvements and iterations, CIOs and CTOs can uncover what their specific organization does best and why.

The idea behind this growth mindset and shift away from a results-oriented approach is to make room for new ideas. If you do things the way they have always been done, out of habit alone, there is no space to question what could be better. As the CIO says, “try something, if it works, then great.”

Growth Mindset Role Model: Cynthia Stoddard

If there are ways to get growth mindset wrong, what does it look like when done right? In an interview with the Enterprisers Project, Adobe senior VP and CIO Cynthia Stoddard highlights the importance of a growth mindset. She notes that giving up control and embracing failure are key to success. 

Stoddard focused on Adobe’s shift to a data-driven operating model. This required effort from employees in all departments. When things did not work as expected, she shared, staff learned from the challenge and applied the learnings to new ideas. These iterations and agility improve time to market. They improve the experience for the customer. 

How Can You Adopt Constant Improving and Iterating?

As a CIO or CTO, you can be like Cynthia Stoddard and adopt an approach of constant improvement and iteration. Another Gartner analyst lays out an excellent path toward this mindset change, with four simple steps.

  1. The first is to ensure that everyone understands what growth mindset is, especially in the digital era. It means moving quickly and adapting to changes flexibly, without getting caught up in the binary of success versus failure. 
  2. The next step is to define the characteristics that reflect this personal development, whether it’s new skills acquired or business results.
  3. Implementing the growth mindset is something that can be measured too, with performance metrics. This is the evidence that shows why growth mindset is a good thing. It is especially important if the corporate culture hinges on success as an outcome, rather than the path to those results. 
  4. Finally, Gartner suggests measuring, monitoring, and waiting. This shift toward a growth mindset may take some time, even for someone in a position like CIO or CTO. 

What does this look like in action? There are a few ways growth mindset shows up in CIOs and CTOs, and thus, in the entire IT department. One major shift is from siloed thinking to a DevOps approach. Here, the whole team works to formulate innovative solutions. It moves away from the idea that a task or issue is one person or department’s problem. Instead, the whole organization can drop the “them versus us mindset” to create a cross-functional team. Adopting constant improvement and iterating means improved collaboration and creativity, from the top down. 

As you adopt a growth mindset, your work as a CIO or CTO will start to look and feel different. Invest in the right technology to put that collaboration and creativity into action. GroupLink everything HelpDesk, GroupLink Workflow Process & Incident Tracking, and GroupLink for SafestSchools all have excellent eWorkflow, WFH and ITSM capability.

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