A simple tool to drive your value as CIO

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A simple tool to drive your value as CIO

[Blog post] How to stay in the 'keep your job' quadrant.

As a technology leader, there is a fine line between careful consideration and stagnation.

Do you want to be defined by inaction? Or would you rather be defined by your ability to quickly and effectively determine a course of action that delivers value to your organisation? 

I would hope that it’s the latter that drives your thinking.

In this time of constant disruption, many things that we do have a use-by date, including systems and processes. Understanding this not only opens us to opportunities, but frees us from being defined by the past.

So it is time to start critically assessing the value of what it is you do.

But where do you start?

Here is a simple model that tries to chunk down the problem in a manner that helps determine direction, minimise distractions and create the right focus.

This model (above) is based on the notion that our efforts are best spent on delivering greater value, an ‘exothermic’ value reaction if you will. 

In other words, a CIO should aim to derive a greater value from his or her activity, than the effort they put into it.

A CIO’s aim should be to drive activity into the bottom right quartile. It’s not a ‘magic’ quadrant, but a ‘value’ quadrant. Or to be more blunt – “the keep your job” quadrant.

In categorising these activities, I focus on two key dimensions – value derived and effort expended. The quadrants are:

  1. Utility – Effort Low (EL) - Value Low (VL)
  2. Stop doing – Effort High (EH) – Value Low (VL)
  3. Transform away – Effort High (EH) – Value High (VH)
  4. Value Generation – Effort Low (EL) – Value High (VH)

What I have noticed in applying this model is that activities migrate between these quadrants in various ways. For example:

Utility: Effort low (EL) - Value Low (VL)

  • Your high effort - low value activity can be delivered by others as a utility, so that moves down;
  • Your high effort – high value activity can be delivered by others as a utility, so that moves down and to the left; and
  • Your low effort – high value activity has become commoditised and is now available as a utility.

You can apply the same process to activities that are in the other quadrants, and then develop strategies to ‘move’ or eliminate them as determined by their value proposition.

You may also find that in order to get to the end goal of utility or value, you move through the various quadrants.

So paths could be from ‘stop doing’ through to ‘transform’ to ‘utility’. Or from transform to utility to value.

The simplicity of this model isn’t meant to replace good, honest effort in understanding what it is that you do, and why you do it. What this model does do is get you started on that journey, by allowing you to categorise these offerings, and prioritise the stages in your journey to remain relevant.

Just because it worked or was valued yesterday, doesn’t mean it will work or be valuable tomorrow.

Vito Forte has chosen to forgo payment for this column and has instead made a donation to beyondblue, a charity dedicated to reducing the impact of anxiety and depression on individuals, families and carers.


Vito Forte
As CIO of Fortescue Metals Group, Vito Forte leads the IT department to keep pace with the company’s rapid growth and expansion. Vito is an award winning IT executive who has many years of experience in mining and capital works projects. He shares his views on driving the digital value process.
Read more from this blog: Change agent

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