CIO Connect – Managing Disruptions in Your Day to Day

Session Topic: How Do You Manage Disruption in Your Day to Day?

The life of a CIO has always been one that required the balancing act of driving innovation and transformation while managing the day to day running of the business. In addition to the challenges of managing the changes and disruptions that CIO’s have always had to deal with, today’s environment is an era when the pandemic is disrupting every aspect of our lives. While a ‘new normal’ is evolving, the continuation of disruption will certainly not go away.

Discussion Summary:

With that context, today’s discussion was centered around the question: “How do you manage disruption in your day to day?”

  • How do you as a CIO manage disruption against your day to day running of your business and ongoing projects underway? For example, how did you deal with the recent Log4j issue as a case in point?
  • How do you gain knowledge and educate yourselves on the issues, impacts and how to resolve disruptions when they occur?

The following were the key discussion themes, points and tips that were shared.

Day to Day Disruptions:

We are all faced with the daily barrage of incoming emails and texts. In the age of remote work, there is a heightened sense of urgency, and everyone feels that their issue is the most important.

Some of the tips that were offered:

  • Distinguish between emergency and non-emergency items and be firm about this as a principle.
  • Define the priority of issues based on business and customer impact.
  • Clarity of communications and preparedness before a disruption or crisis is key to dealing with them when they occur (e.g. table top exercises, incident response plans).
  • Empower your teams to handle crises.
  • Rebalance priorities to allow them to deal with the crisis.
  • Provide guidance to the team, communicate the ‘why’ and then get out of the way.
  • Start with recruitment:  Ensure you have the right staff with the skills and accountability to do their jobs.

Managing Communications:

In addition to clarity of communication prior to a crisis, ongoing communication during a crisis is important.

Some of the tips that were offered:

  • Communication up to the Board:
    • Keep the Board advised and educated about what they need to be aware of.
    • Ongoing education regarding emerging technology, risks and threats will plant seeds of awareness on an ongoing basis (e.g. Cybersecurity, Supply Chain disruptions). When a crisis happens, awareness will already exist around the issues and risks.
    • Brief them about the crisis and establish a cadence of updates until resolved.
  • Communication with Stakeholders and Executives.
    • Keep C-suite advised and communicate what support you want from them and vice-versa.
    • Manage communication of the issues and proposed resolutions so that the crisis is resolved in the right way vs a ‘quick and dirty’ solution. Be prepared to discuss the trade-offs.

Leveraging Disruptions to Drive Innovation:

No one wants a crisis or disruption. However, we can all learn from them and not let a crisis ‘go to waste’.

Many participants leveraged disruptions to advance technology. Here are some examples:

  • Treat the crisis as a ‘wake-up call’ to deal with needed upgrades and make them a priority for investment.
  • Use the experience of remote work to move away from paper-based work to increased digitization.
  • Ensure and invest in preparedness for cyber events through education, table top exercises and ongoing technology risk assessment.

Participants shared lessons learned from coming out of disruptions and crises. Crisis events led to:

  • Revisiting and making changes to governance policies and operating models.
  • Clarification of roles and responsibilities to ensure clear lines of communication and accountability.
  • Ensuring clear incident response plans are in place in preparation for any crisis.
  • Increasing awareness and training regarding Cybersecurity risks and mitigations.

Host:                Kyoko Kobayashi
Moderators:   Lan Nguyen and Gini Wong