CIO Connect – Taking care of business – don’t waste a crisis

Session Topic:

This session focused on takeaways from the CIO Peer Forum sessions held throughout the month of April on 14 different days.  The following questions were the basis of the discussion:

  • What did you specifically learn that is worthy of sharing with your CIOCAN peers?
  • What would you like to have more information on?
  • How can we build momentum by “Taking care of business – don’t waste a crisis”?

Discussion Summary:

The Peer Forum Theme was:  “Taking care of business – don’t waste a crisis” and there were 18 presentations over 14 days from April 7 – 29, 2021.  There were a broad set of topics, but the major categories were:

  • Leadership in times of crisis and change
  • The changing role of the CIO
  • Governance of innovation and interacting with the Board
  • Cybersecurity
  • Future of Work – Hybrid work models

The conversations in the breakout groups covered commentary on the Peer Forum the topics covered, as well as shared learnings from the sessions.  Overall, the discussions tended to be around forward looking themes and ideas.  How do we develop ways of working as we move to Future of Work and Hybrid work models?  How do we adapt to and sustain these new ways of working while managing organizational and team culture?

General Comments on the Peer Forum:

  • Good to hear challenges and share conversations with peers who are facing the same challenges.
  • It was challenging to attend all sessions. Would it be better to compress into a few days so they could be blocked off?
  • The virtual platform offered opportunities to network, but virtual networking is difficult in these types of forums.
  • Overall, the content was excellent.  There was a mix of leadership and technical sessions.

Topics of interest and shared learnings:

Future of Work – experiences and tips for virtual work and moving to a hybrid work model:

  • Many organizations will continue to work remotely and/or proceed with a hybrid work model.
  • Managing remote teams and collaborating virtually continue to be a challenge. However, over the course of the pandemic, different techniques have proven to be helpful.  The following tips were shared:
    • Many new team members were recruited virtually during the pandemic. One participant mentioned that 50% of the IT team were hired this way.  It’s important that a team culture be developed to bond the team and allow team and relationship building.
    • There tended to be more meetings to keep the team engaged and communicating. This can be challenging to manage as this contributes to ‘zoom fatigue’.    Some tips that have worked for participants are:
      • Alternate between one-on-one and team meetings.
      • Keep meetings short.
      • Include lighter topics and ice-breakers. Start with how people are doing.
      • Small groups have met face-to-face (observing protocols) for Innovation Brainstorming sessions. Have also looked at tools such as Team Retro to facilitate virtual collaboration.
      • Include milestone celebrations (birthdays, anniversaries, project milestones, etc). Send small gifts and tokens of appreciation to team members’ homes.
      • Convene focus groups on specific topics to get a pulse on the team: how they are doing and what they are thinking.
      • Replicate the informal chats over coffee with informal virtual chats. Look for ways to connect.
    • There was discussion around the value of one-on-one conversations that happen before and after meetings. These could be to prepare for a meeting, to follow up on points raised during a meeting, or to check in on team members since it’s sometimes hard to get a reading on how they are doing.
    • Recognize that what works for us in technology (in terms of remote or hybrid work) may not work for everybody.
    • It’s okay to be not busy all the time and still be productive. Remote and hybrid work models are leading to new patterns and ways of working.  Consider a 5 minute break to go outside for a walk instead of walking from one meeting room to another.

Governance of Innovation and Interacting with the Board:

  • Many enjoyed the sessions around driving innovation while managing risk, including cybersecurity. The following are the key discussion points and tips:
    • Take advantage of the increased visibility on IT and technology with the Executive Team and the Board.
    • Use storytelling to communicate progress made in presenting to the Board.
    • Move from the conceptual to reality and communicate successes.
    • Be the best in times of change. Be authentic and open.

Host: Gary Davenport

Moderators: Kyoko Kobayashi and Raj Thukral