Now he has a new book, "Blind Spot: A Leader's Guide to IT-Enabled Business Transformation ," that updates that framework to deal with the issues that IT and business leaders are grappling with today. In an interview with strategy + business released last week, Feld talks about the book, what he's learned and the ideas he now espouses.
He notes that many ideas have been tried over the years, to varying degrees of success, to create strategic IT leaders. And during the last 50 years technology has matured phenomenally, but frameworks for managing the new types of IT have not developed as fast. "There is a lack of understanding," he says, "about what is required to modernize IT systems. Instead, the CIO often gets berated. That is a common blind spot."
So what does Feld recommend for driving change through IT? It all starts with his framework that is built around four basic questions:
1. Why do anything?
2. What will we do?
3. How will we do it?
4. Who will lead and manage the change?
Each of these four questions gets answered at various stages in an IT transformation. The following five stages proceed in structured 90-day increments, including:
- Strategy (articulate the future state plan and assess the skills, structures and leadership abilities within the IT group)
- The Turn (plan the details and repositioning of the organization)
- Up and Running (deliver the new way of working)
- Hitting Stride (acceleration of the change)
- Self-Sufficiency (industrialization of the new approach)
This framework was highly successful at Frito-Lay and at subsequent companies that Feld worked with through his consultancy. His goal now is convey his ideas and framework in a more scalable way to help develop the next generation of business and IT leaders. Part of this plan involves making the CIO's role wider. "They must think of themselves, and be thought of by others in their organization, as a systems leader and an integrator, not just a technology leader," he says. This is a subtle difference, he admits, but an important one.
Now that many organizations are struggling to update complex systems that have been growing piecemeal for many years, IT needs leaders that can see the evolving business and technology patterns clearly and respond appropriately. It's not enough to build department solutions, IT leaders must be able to build systems that all connect to one another. Feld believes that the title CIO could be better defined as "chief integration officer." He says, "The most important skills are to be a systems thinker and to be able to see the system that is the company."
Do the IT leaders at your organization think that way? Is your organization developing the next generation of IT leaders to think this way? If not, it will be hard to create strategic IT solutions that will make your organization a leader in its field.