Take the Apple – It’s Time to Teach


Community Blog
Written by Liz Ramey

NOVEMBER 10, 2020

"The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance."

― Socrates

As parents shifted to take the role of teacher, they’ve had to inspire their kids to operate differently than they’ve been taught. But as we know, many parents have stepped up to the challenge; they’ve taken the ‘apple’ and worked through their discomfort.

CIOs should take note from parents, hone the skills of ‘enterprises professor,’ and work to inspire their teams and business partners to evolve their thinking. The opportunity is upon IT leaders to truly influence the future of the enterprise. If CIOs don’t capitalize on this momentum now, if they don’t ‘take the apple’ and teach up, down and across the business, they will run the risk of irrelevance.

I wrote in last month’s blog, “Though nearly 80% of CIOs in the Evanta September virtual town halls have agreed that they have increased their influence with the business in 2020, there is still an overwhelming tone from CIOs that this newfound influence might have an expiration date.”

So, what can a CIO do to maintain momentum and seize the opportunity to educate the business?

Based on Evanta’s CIO discussions, I’ve outlined three ways in which CIOs are taking the time to teach new ways of thinking.

  1. Defining a value-based strategy

Re-engineer your IT strategy to focus on value first. It’s the perfect time for a CIO to demonstrate their understanding of business objectives by directly demonstrating the value IT will add to help the execution of these goals.

B.J. Moore, a CIO in the Seattle community states, “The COVID crisis has helped illustrate the benefits of a solid technology strategy and implementation. We need to capitalize on the momentum this has generated and continue the course on our ‘Simplify, Modernize, and Innovate’ strategic framework as we work to enable healthcare of the future.”

Make sure to share the narrative behind your IT strategy with your team, so this can be an underlying message in every meeting in the future.

  1.  Advising an outcome-based mindset

Make technology relevant to the business. Do not talk about the technology that is needed to make the vision a reality – instead, talk about how the business will gain value from new investments. Teach your team to have this mindset in every meeting they have with the business.

Jason Bressler, a CIO in our Detroit Community says, “As CIOs and CTOs, we now have a true seat at the table to solve problems along with our other key C- level leaders on where business decisions take the company. Typically, IT is looked upon to support decisions, not influence them. Now, we have the opportunity to inject new platforms and solutions to the tech stack to enhance business growth.”

This approach to growth will propel the discussion around technology investments further and allow the CIO to take the podium and influence future decisions.

  1.  Sharing a compelling narrative

Liza Massey, CIO in our San Francisco community mentions, “With increased respect and better partnerships, IT is now at the table before tech-based solutions are even discussed. We are part of the response and decision-making process more than ever before.”

This opportunity should not be overlooked. Sit tall in the seat that you have earned. Take every opportunity to share IT’s success stories with the C-suite, your business partners, and your team. A compelling narrative can help IT leaders influence decisions across the enterprise.

Massey continues, “I believe this approach will continue even after we are out of emergency response mode. By having employees on the front lines of emergency responses and working closely with employees from other departments to deliver tech solutions, we’ve forged relationships and earned respect that will carry forward into the future.”

It’s time for the CIO to take the apple. Teach about value, talk about outcomes, and leverage every opportunity to tell IT’s story and help write the future.

Liz Ramey headshot

Liz Ramey

Director, Content at Evanta, a Gartner Company


Other CIO perspectives from community members on influencing the organization can be found in our Voice of the CIO Community article.

by CIOs, for CIOs


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