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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Qualities of High-Performing IT Cultures

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IT cultures that are tuned to perform at the highest levels typically have five attributes in common, according to Deloitte’s U.S. CIO Program.

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The behaviors and values that drive the way work is done can have an outsized influence on company performance, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement. A global survey of C-suite executives shows that more than two-thirds (69 percent) believe company culture has a critically important impact on their organization’s ability to realize its mission and vision.

Employees and recruits agree. An analysis by Bersin by Deloitte determined that a company’s culture and values play a greater role in creating a positive employment brand than salary, benefits, and even work-life balance.

A recent study of data collected from more than 1,200 participants in Deloitte’s Global CIO Survey explains how CIOs can shape IT behaviors and values to improve competitive advantage. This article, the second in a two-part series (part one can be found here), identifies five common characteristics of high-performing IT cultures.

Selective hiring. All CIOs want to hire the best talent, but CIOs in high-performing IT cultures are especially demanding. They typically hire very selectively, offer outstanding opportunities for career growth, and groom their staff to excel beyond all expectations. They also seek flexible employees who fit cultural needs. For example, in a culture that values innovation, CIOs may consider hiring candidates with a strong track record of risk-taking, experimentation, and creativity.

Business outcomes-focused. By emphasizing business results instead of IT activities, CIOs can clarify priorities and help teams understand their business impact. For example, they might orient the IT organization toward business outcomes by flattening it to reduce the distance between staff and customers, measuring senior leaders on time spent with internal and external customers, or linking IT incentives to business performance metrics such as growth, profitability, and customer satisfaction.

Fluid planning and budgeting. The pace of technology change has accelerated so quickly that, in many cases, one-year planning cycles are no longer applicable. CIOs can prepare their IT teams to be agile and responsive by allocating operational budgets and developing effective governance mechanisms that allow for course corrections and priority adjustments.

Continual learning. High-performing IT cultures often invest in and reward constant learning, branching beyond technology skills to include business aptitude, market dynamics, and business model innovations. A mix of traditional instructor-led training, informal on-the-job learning experiences, and relationship-building and networking can help employees develop leadership and business strategy skills, understand and solve complex business problems, and respond to disruptions.

Commitment to innovation. Innovation—continually looking for new and creative ways to do things better, drive value, and solve the thorniest business problems—helps IT organizations remain healthy. Cultures that emphasize business transformation and growth often innovate by creating technology-driven products and services, while a culture that prioritizes stable and efficient operations can experiment with more efficient ways to operate IT functions. In an environment that prizes collaboration and teamwork, CIOs might test new methods for building consensus or working together.

Creating a high-performing IT culture is a deliberate and ongoing effort that typically requires diligence, an informed approach, and continual monitoring. When CIOs can nurture habits that drive IT teams to perform at the highest levels, IT can function like a well-oiled machine, with the ability to address business needs and operate as a source of competitive advantage.

—by Khalid Kark, research director, U.S. CIO Program, Deloitte LLP; Judy Pennington, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP; and Robyn Wagner Skarbek, senior manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP

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