As companies of all sizes and styles take on digitization projects to use technology and data in all aspects of their operations, CIOs are having to come up with new roles and new career paths for their teams.
To help the IT team and the company in general stake out a path into these unknown digital territories, CIOs will need “starters” on their teams. These are employees inside or outside of IT that can spot digitization opportunities and know how to jump start a project to take advantage of them.
The Five Questions to Ask
Starters may not be technology gurus, but should have a clear vision and unbridled curiosity to understand how digital technologies can transform the company’s channels and product portfolio. Five fairly simple questions will help you uncover who in your company is best suited to taking on the role.
When you had to outline the vision for a new technology project, what were the biggest roadblocks? A starter is more likely to say how he or she had trouble in breaking or circumventing existing processes, or may talk about how they had trouble in designing a new project methodology.
This reveals a sound understanding of standards but also the creativity to think beyond them. An “improver” — that is, a worker who refines — is more likely to talk about getting stakeholder buy-in for the project.
Can you provide an example of how you increased efficiency within your organization? Starters will usually give answers that reflect a higher appetite for risk taking and focus on collaboration.
You are most likely to hear answers like, “we killed 12 projects to focus our resources on just one,” or, “we collaborated with other teams to ensure we didn’t ‘reinvent the wheel’.”
How have you reacted in the past when someone brought you a new idea, particularly one that was odd or unusual? A starter might say how they brainstormed on the idea to make it viable and more useful for customers.
He or she would have identified the areas that wouldn’t work and suggested alternatives to help improve the idea. This mindset clearly shows an ability to generate and flesh out new and alternative ideas.
What is the most difficult decision you’ve had to make about the future of a project? How did you arrive at your decision? Look for answers that show that the employee is unwilling to change a decision to suit others’ needs.
A starter for instance, will not think twice to kill a project with underlying assumptions that don’t add up, even if the project is from a well-known or higher ranked employee.
What is the first step you will take if you have to enhance a product or service? Many employees will talk about floating a customer survey to identify opportunities to improve immediate offerings. However, a starter will try to assess unarticulated needs to identify entirely new areas of opportunities.
They might say that they always look for the things customers don’t know they need. Starters will focus less on short-term enhancements and look at long-term gains or new products to complement existing ones.