Hi and welcome to part number three of the blog series on the chief digital officer.
The first part lays groundwork and explains the urgent need for this role inside business in today’s digital world.
The second part digs deep into the tasks and the responsibility of the CDO. Part two also covers the necessary soft-skills which a CDO needs to bring with.
Now let´s work on the third part which deals with the correct setup of the CDO and the connected organization. Why is that so important? Just place this guy somewhere near top-management and see, things will move. No, they will not. As we have seen in part one, the digital shift happens to the business model. As this the very core of the company, we need to carefully setup the CDO to reflect this responsibility.
Beginning at the top
First question we want to find an answer: Which alternatives exist to place the CDO as a part of the top-management? There are mainly four alternatives:
Not in top-management, but directly connected to CEO in first line below him
- Into an existing line-function such as corporate strategy. This only works, in case the CEO is running the role of the CDO too but needs lot´s of support. Again, this huge shift cannot be delegated!
- As a newly created CEO-office beside existing line-functions. Same issue than first alternative. In this case it is absolutely necessary to check if this solution is a good one related to the existing company culture. If there is the tendency of “not invented here”, it is very important to grow a co-creation atmosphere.
Both solutions are not the best idea looking on the additional work-load of the CEO.
Not in top-management, not directly to CEO but connected to another C-role (well not the CDO ;-))
- This is for short-term a solution, but not for mid- or longterm. The organization will doubt the necessity of change, as the most important role is missing – the CEO.
Settled inside the top-management
- CDO is a member of the board, same level than all other members and fully responsible with a clear line between the CDO and CEO. It seems that this version is a powerful design. But it also only works in case there is a clear understanding of collaboration with especially CIO and CMO.
According to Dion Hinchcliffe, one of the thought leaders in the CDO area, showed on Twitter the tremendous growth rate. of CDOs. Run a simple test: search for “chief digital officer” in one of those big networks such as Glassdoor or Linkedin, more and more CDO vacancies are available. They all own a very core: Developing business and digital strategy along market and customer needs.
Now as we have the CDO on board, what’s next? Lonely firefighter or fully connected strategist? Standard change-programme or fresh ideas, which recognize the more and more connected workforce? The question is about the setup of the transformation organization. Here comes the challenge: A digital transformation program runs in many levels, in most functions, with effects on culture – and everything in the same time. It cannot be “planned” in a traditional manner.
“How to Run an Agile Digital Transformation Programme” by Lee Bryant outlines a new approach beyond standard change programs. And by doing so, a possible door towards the “modus operandi” of the CDO is in sight. I think this is enough material for a continuation of this series towards a fourth blog post: “The chief digital officer – driving the connected transformation”. See you soon!