Three Ways to Collaborate Among the C-Suite

Community Blog
Written by Liz Ramey

FEBRUARY 23, 2021

For nearly 20 years, Evanta has gathered insights on our communities’ top priorities, the challenges they face as C-suite executives and the goals they set to add value to the enterprise. This data is invaluable to our communities. It helps us better understand regional- or industry-specific trends and develop topics and agendas that meet the real-time needs of our executives spanning the C-suite.   

Based on early 2021 survey data and the hundreds of conversations we’ve already had with CIOs, CISOs, CDAOs, and CHROs, it’s become clear that cross-collaboration among C-suite executives is more critical than ever. In a recent Board of Directors survey, Gartner found that “organizational silos represent one of the most common and chronic barriers to digital business success.”

With nearly 900 responses to Evanta’s Leadership Perspective Survey thus far, executives have indicated their top three enterprise objectives are:

  1. Increasing operational efficiencies and productivity
  2. Driving growth
  3. Improving customer experience

But the rankings of these objectives aren’t consistent across the C-suite roles. Here’s a snapshot:


Figure 1: Top Enterprise Priorities


To truly collaborate and gain more impactful business outcomes, executives need to work together as they plan and set their department strategies. Here are three ways to rethink how you achieve your team’s objectives by building partnerships across the silos.

  1. Cross-pollinate your priorities with other departments.

Referencing other departments’ priorities in your own strategy can bolster the impact your department makes across the business. A few examples:

  • If a CHRO’s top priority for the year is “employee experience,” the CIO can make reference to their influence on this priority as they map out their own technology strategy. Ensuring that employees have the right tools and applications to do their jobs better can have a profound impact on HR leadership and their goals. 
  • If “cloud strategy, security and architecture” is a top priority for CISOs and “creating a cloud or hybrid data strategy” is a focus for the CDAO, how can they collaborate and refer to each other’s goals in their own strategic plans?

A common mistake in the past has been to create departmental strategies in silos, so executives must break down their barriers to support the entire enterprise.

  1. Be mindful of each department’s challenges – perhaps, you can help!

CHROs should know that the CDAO’s team is often lacking the skills they need to take the necessary steps toward advancing analytics practices across the business. CIOs should know that CISOs lack the resources needed to carry out their vision of a secure enterprise, while also trying to keep up with a rapidly changing threat landscape. 

By truly understanding other departments’ challenges, executives can build bridges of understanding between their teams, thus creating more opportunities to overcome obstacles.

  1. Illustrate interdepartmental dependencies as you communicate to other C-suite executives.

Much like cross-pollinating priorities, illuminating interdepartmental dependencies while creating a department strategy can influence outcomes across all departments.

As Gartner analyst, Heather Colella, states in her article on “The Art of Creating a One-Page Strategy”: “Use the final story as the strategy for the organization by facilitating a conversation across the executive team that can: determine investments, kick-off projects, communicate change and celebrate success when delivered.” Here, Colella is referencing how an executive can best communicate their strategy to other executives, but I think we can take this a step further. 

In your story and your strategy, every executive should know their dependencies that drive success. If other executives are named characters in your story, they will feel compelled and accountable for progress. 

Collaborate. Know your peers’ challenges. And write a story inclusive of everyone’s journey. These are the cornerstones of C-suite collaboration.