If Your C-Suite Doesn’t Include IT, Alignment Will Be A Challenge

Pair of shoes in row against wall

Just because your title begins with a C – as in CIO or CTO – it doesn’t necessarily mean you have full access to the rest of the C-Suite. And without that access, it may be tough to get the true lowdown on company strategy. Hearing the results of those conversations is definitely not the same as being a participant.

It can be frustrating to get information second hand. Or through the filters of orchestrated “company speak.” There’s real power in watching people interact as they discuss the goals and objectives of the company to position it for success. That’s what you’ll really miss out on if you’re not privy to the actual business strategy discussion.

Your ultimate goal should be to become an integral part of that group of business leaders to help improve company performance. And for good reason. Price Waterhouse Cooper’s 2013 Digital IQ Study supports better business outcomes for companies that have a strong relationship between the CIO and the rest of the C-Suite.

“Our survey found that companies with collaborative C-suites that intertwine business strategy and information technology and are often rewarded with stronger company performance,” according to Chris Curran, a PwC principal and a lead author of the report. “They can also adapt quickly to market changes to maintain an advantage over competitors.”

Until that happens in your company, here are four things you can do to become a part of the conversation, ensure ITs value is recognized and solutions are integrated with business objectives.

1. Build Relationships

Strong relationships with senior leaders are the foundation of business-IT alignment. But it’s not just the relationship that will make it happen. When building those relationships with the C-Suite members, your discussions with each member around how IT can enable the achievement of their critical goal and ultimately company success are key. Find out what’s most important to each of them. Do your homework and speak the language of their line of business. Look inward and make sure your leadership style is congruent with the style of the C-Suite team. Learn how they view technology’s role in achievement of their goals and help make them happen. Find out if they have unmet technology needs and work together to remove any obstacles.

2. Be A Team Player

Now I know this is cliché, but it will help you make progress. You have strengths that will contribute to the success of each line of business and can help the leaders of those organizations achieve their goals. Plus your technology background will be an asset. Look at the big picture of what they’re trying to accomplish and help them see where technology can be added or changed to get better results – outcomes, operational efficiencies or both. Offer up resources where possible to assist at the front line.

3. Push their Agenda, Not Yours

You, of course, have a vision and plan for technology in the company. Make sure you use opportunities to test that plan out with each of the senior leaders by showing them how their priorities can be moved forward with the assistance of your plan components. Tread carefully here and make sure you are pushing their agenda forward not just yours. Help them see how customers will have a better outcome, company sales will improve, or money will be saved. Adding value is the key here.

4. Share Success Stories

As each of the leaders achieves success, help them share those stories with the rest of the C-Suite. These stories should include how technology and your department’s involvement enabled that success to happen.

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