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CIO Unplugged – 8/1/08

August 1, 2008 Ed Marx No Comments

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine personally, and are not necessarily representative of Texas Health Resources or its subsidiaries.

CIO reDefined. CIO 2.0 Disruptive Leadership
By Ed Marx

I was privileged to be part of the CHIME faculty for a forum entitled “CIO 2.0”. Gartner was on hand with research and helped define the meaning of CIO 2.0. Faculty gave tangible examples from their unique experiences. In preparation, I did some introspection and analysis so I could succinctly convey my thoughts on how a person could transcend from the traditional CIO into the technology leader for today and beyond.

For me, CIO 2.0 is not about doing a couple of things differently in the workplace, changing the rhetoric, or upgrading your eyeglasses. CIO 2.0 is the external representation of an internal transformation. It is a interacting with life holistically, as juxtaposed from traditional thought and action. I narrowed it down to five things to share with the forum. This post focuses on one.

CIO = DQ

One of my favorite post-triathlon indulgences is a large cookie dough DQ Blizzard, high in fat, sugar, and best of all, taste. During the last few miles of the run, amid high heat and humidity, I begin to hallucinate about the DQ experience. Like an oasis in the middle of a never-ending desert, I cannot only see it, but taste it, which adequately keeps me running through the finish tape.

But the DQ for the CIO is not about ice cream. It’s something more satiating: the Disruption Quotient of a leader and, more specifically, disruptive leadership. I’m linking this term to the broader “Disruptive Innovation,” as portrayed by Clayton M. Christianson in his sentinel books on disruption http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_innovation. Disruptive Innovation explains how a technological innovation, product, or service uses a "disruptive" strategy rather than a "revolutionary" or "sustaining" strategy to overturn existing dominant technologies or status quo products in a market. CIO 2.0 must embody the concept Christianson describes.

How can you calculate your DQ? One immediate measure is to take a tally of how many calls you receive from your organization’s leadership and how much resistance you get from decisions that upset the status quo. I determine my influence on IT and ultimately on the organization by my DQ. If I am not upsetting the proverbial apple cart, then I am adding little value. By merely maintaining what has been done in the past, I will bring about little if any gain?

Don’t misunderstand. This is not about stirring the pot for the sake of stirring the pot. Disruptive leadership must be purposeful and backed by a vision. I recall a meeting where we discussed the difficulty of getting clinicians to adopt CPOE. Why were they persisting at using paper-based records? As I looked around, I detected part of the problem. Every exec in the room had brought along a giant binder of information. Stacks of paper. So I ruffled a few feathers. “We cannot expect clinicians to change if we are unwilling to transform ourselves. Once we as leaders set the example, they will follow.” I received a few negative calls, as expected. But over the next few months, most of those leaders switched to carrying tablets instead of binders. Today, CPOE adoption is higher than the national average. That’s disruption with purpose.

What is your DQ? Are you making the necessary adjustments in your IT strategies and tactics? If so, how many IM’s or texts did you get this past week attempting to pushback your tactics? Are stakeholders uncomfortable, especially those who have been around the longest? Are you seeing healthy change in response to your leadership? A high DQ will not only reinforce your direction, it is more satisfying than the tastiest Blizzard following your hardest run. Best of all, no empty calories!


Ed Marx is senior vice president and CIO at Texas Health Resources in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. Ed encourages your interaction through this blog. (Use the “add a comment” function at the bottom of each post.) You can also connect with him directly through his profile pages on social networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook, and you can follow him via Twitter – User Name “marxists.”

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