Gartner’s Sinha provides strategic planning advice to group of key Ontario IT execs

A strategic planning discussion organized by Gartner earlier this month, targeted at senior IT managers in Ontario’s public sector, examined the best approach they should take so they as individuals, and the organizations they work for, succeed.

The session, which took place at the University of Toronto’s Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship, featured Monika Sinha, a vice president in Gartner’s CIO Research Group whose areas of coverage includes communications and influence, strategy execution, organizational design and governance.

According to Gartner’s 2022 CIO survey, the greatest hindrance to realizing the value of digital investments is related to people and organizational issues such as siloed behavior, talent gaps, change resistance, and leadership.

Avoiding those traps, said Sinha, is critical, and revolves around having the right type of strategic planning methods in place.

“For many of us, strategic planning is something that seems like a sales brochure. At the beginning of the year, we work on our budgets, and then we kind of figure out what we’re going to get approved, and then we move on.”

What that represents is the antithesis of how things should operate for an organization to adopt what she described as business composability.

Gartner describes the term as the “mindset, technologies, and set of operating capabilities that enable organizations to innovate and adapt quickly to changing business needs. It is built on applying the key principle of modularity to business assets to achieve the scale and pace required of business ambition.”

Sinha calls it an antidote to volatility, adding that “63 per cent of CIOs at organizations with high composability reported superior business performance compared with peers or competitors in the past year. They are better able to pursue new value streams through technology, too.

“Business composability isn’t uniformly high because it requires business thinking to be reinvented. Traditional business thinking views change as a risk, while composable thinking is the means to master the risk of accelerating change and to create new business value.”

A key statistic for her Toronto audience came from a Gartner survey that revealed a mere two per cent of government organizations are highly composable.

“What I mean by that is they have an adaptive operating model, a way that allows them to leverage the change and promote the change. I have studied these organizations for about two years now, and what we found is that even during Covid-19, when many organizations were completely shut down or couldn’t even deliver any component of their strategy, their results were consistently better than their peers because of their operating model. They came out winners during (the pandemic).”

A successful operating model, said Sinha, is the “transport we use to arrive at our destination. It is backed by a strategic planning model, she added, that contains “clear and consistent priorities as well as clear direction and purpose.”

These include:

  • Start the process of strategic planning by identifying the business problem, opportunity, or disruption that your critical stakeholders need answered with respect to their business strategy and outcomes.
  • Do not wait for them to “deliver a cohesive and actionable organization strategy – take this opportunity to engage with leaders, and then realize and/or articulate their business direction.”
  • Remember, there are no models, frameworks or practices that will work for all situations. Look for opportunities to leverage deliverables by combining and/or relating business, people, information, technology, and solutions.

Individual success, or conversely the theme of the seminar, namely how “senior leaders become powerful influencers by developing and improving their strategies to expand their base of power, their sources of influence and their persuasion tactics,” hinges on two key differentiators: whether they are considered to be either a “Safe Pair of Hands” or a “Trusted Advisor.”

The former, said Sinah, is a “get the job done opportunity, where every conversation is about ‘what do I need to do? What are you asking me for?’ They are very reliable, trustworthy – great people – I would want them in my life, but they are not my trusted advisors.

“The difference with a trusted advisor is that they are looking at every opportunity to say, ‘how do I maximize value and impact for the organization? How can I improve insights or recommendations to support decision-making?’”

Rather than concentrating on how to best get something done, she said, a trusted advisor thinks about how best to take an organization to the next level.

There are a number of steps that need to be taken in order for anyone to become a trusted advisor because, as Sinah pointed out, “you don’t wake up one morning becoming influential.”

These steps include identifying your goals, maximizing your bases of power, personalizing your sources of influence and last, but not least, tracking your progress.

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. He has extensive experience as a reporter, feature writer and editor and has been covering technology-related issues for more than 30 years.

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