I was listening to a sports podcast yesterday as we were out for our morning walk.  They were discussing how a formerly successful coach had failed to evolve with the times and was instead stuck trying to do things that had previously made them successful.  And that wasn’t working very well for them or for their team.

So, of course, I’ve spent the day thinking about ensuring we are evolving and not stuck in a rut.  I learned some time ago that I had to be intentional about not going to my comfortable zones and challenging myself to not spend time repeating previous successes.  But now I’m contemplating these three questions:

  1. What are the best CIO’s out there doing that I should be doing (i.e., what is the state of play in our business)?  In other words, how do I ensure I am constantly modernizing my best practices?
  2. What previously successful strategies do I need to retire because they are outdated and not likely to produce the same success they did in the past?
  3. What best practices are constants that still need emphasis?

I hesitate to talk about these as a CIO2Do because this is pretty personal work.  We all need to find ways to keep our game sharp and to make our best contributions and we probably are all somewhat blinded by past successes.

One of my favorite stories illustrates this point.  I used to tell this story as an insight into different organizational cultures. At one job, based on employee input, I procured very nice high-walled cubicles for a team that saw itself as heads down developers.  They asked for an environment that let them concentrate and permission to use chat tools to collaborate.  When I arrived at my next job and tried to run that same play from my playbook, I was shocked that my team was deeply upset by the proposed new environment until I realized they wanted an environment where they could collaborate face to face and saw the cubicles as a disruptive negative.  The leadership insight I took from that experience was that even the best intentions are only successful when aligned to a great understanding of organizational culture.

Through the lens of evolution, I’d re-assess that lesson to say that I should not have even tried to replicate the cubicle strategy because it had been successful earlier in my career.  I’d also say the constant values – listening to the employee needs and trying to meet them would not ever go out of best practice and that is where to start when trying to improve the environment for your team.  Of course in the new remote work world, this could be a powerful insight into helping build an environment where your team feels valued and empowered to be successful.