10 CIO Resolutions for 2020

How to tackle professional development in 2020.

January is a popular time for resolutions. Work out twice a week. Read more books. Try 100 different fruits and vegetables. 

But what should be on a CIO’s list? Professional resolutions aren’t that different from personal ones. Look for ways to reduce waste (both time and resources) and develop skills in new areas. 

“CIOs should not drift through 2020 without hacking their performance — to strengthen capabilities in leadership, culture and people,” says Mark Raskino, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner. 

Read more: The Gartner 2020 CIO Agenda: Winning in the Turns

Gartner created a list of 10 New Year’s resolution ideas for 2020 to help you grow through the year. Select two or three to focus on to help develop your digital dexterity and evolve personal abilities. The 10 resolutions are divided into three groups (plus one perennial resolution):

  • Clean up: Focus on cleaning up and clearing out bad habits or behaviors 
  • Power up: Work on increasing your power and that of your team 
  • Skill up: Develop new skills and learn new things 

“CIOs need new global perspectives and to open up to new voices. They must be creative to find solutions to the complex and volatile situations they will be thrown into,” says Mary Mesaglio, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner.

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No. 1: Drop dead weight 

As CIOs and their teams are being asked to do more with less, it’s advantageous (and necessary) to remove unnecessary clutter to make room for more important items. This can mean a physical change, like removing a shelf full of old books or old artwork. It can also be more process-based, such as reviewing a backlog of tasks and deleting noncritical items. 

No. 2: Purify purpose

Ready or not, it’s time to clarify the societal purpose of the organization. Trust in large organizations is low, and people are skeptical of corporations. Given the influence that technology now has on company purpose and mission, CIOs are in a position to initiate a conversation about the purpose of the organization. Make sure the company mission fits the digital age and consider focusing on a societal issue the organization can impact, such as plastic pollution or population health. 

No. 3: Mend meetings 

Though often well-intentioned, the reality of meetings is that they are often unproductive or pointless. It’s time to change that. Hack your meetings with a few simple changes like naming the notetaker at the end of the meeting instead of the beginning, which means everyone has to pay attention and engage. Another option is to calculate and display the cost of having all the people in the meeting and then vote on whether the meeting was worth the money. 

No. 4: Stop apologizing 

CIOs often apologize for things that aren’t totally their fault (or their fault at all.) With that in mind, stop apologizing for things like loving IT and being a “geek” or business technology project failures that were caused by others. Remember that resourcing is the responsibility of the whole executive team. 

No. 5: Think analog 

Although using the latest technology to make IT decisions might seem obvious, sometimes analog is a better approach to creative thinking. The reality is that computer screens are finite and small in size and have frequent pop-up interruptions. Instead, use an entire office wall to draw plans for the new year or design your next organization using LEGO® blocks. Use the minifigures metaphorically: Who are the divers, workers and superheroes? 

No. 6: Broaden digital 

Redefine the organization’s definition of transformation. A narrowly defined goal will limit results and insights. Try using one new management technique from a successful digital giant and add one bleeding-edge initiative to your 2020 portfolio. 

Read more: Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020

No. 7: Resource diversely 

With a global shortage of necessary IT talent, expand how you hire new talent. Establish a relationship with at least one educational institution or technology training program. See how you can invest in their program to support future skills and create a talent pipeline. 

No. 8: Become “sino-wise”

With China becoming a leading global innovator at scale, organizations should be preparing for how that will affect their business. Becoming sino-wise — which refers to becoming familiar with the culture and ancient-to-modern history of China — could mean anything from learning Mandarin or reading about modern Chinese history to organizing tours of Chinese digital giants. 

No. 9: Get multimentored

Mentoring can be an effective, and low-effort, way to gain new skills. But there are opportunities to mentor beyond the traditional. Consider auditing a university class or spending a day shadowing an entry-level employee. Both will give you new skills and a new perspective. 

No. 10: Make time to directly experience new technologies 

This reminder resolution is included every year because it is so easy for a CIO’s time to become fully consumed by the process and bureaucracy of corporate life. But the organization looks to the CIO for innovation and information on emerging trends. Some of this can be delegated, but CIOs should set aside time to see demos and try out new technology, as well as protect a small piece of the budget for purchasing new technologies for the office and allowing the team to play. 

Gartner clients who are IT leaders can read the full report CIO New Year’s Resolutions, 2020.

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