Every now and then it can be a good thing to do a little soul searching. Some honest introspection on your effectiveness as a leader and the IT department you have created. I don’t believe you need long sessions on a couch since that might only degrade to the point of self-doubt and an erosion of confidence.
CIO Coefficient of Friction
I also don’t think you need to use any of those complicated leadership style inventories, 360 degree reviews, or management assessments. You only need to think of your contributions in terms of how much friction you add versus how much you eliminate – what I call the CIO Coefficient of Friction.
Definition of Friction
The definition of friction includes two meanings that are useful in considering the contribution of IT and the CIO Coefficient of Friction. Those meanings center on:
- Friction being the force that opposes movement between two bodies. In this use, friction represents resistance.
- Friction being the conflict or clashing of people from opposing views. In this use, friction represents disagreement or antagonism.
Antonyms of Friction
Antonyms of friction, the opposite of friction, are just as important to consider because it helps frame the range of your contribution.
- Lubricity is a measure of the lack of friction. In this use, lubricity represents smoothness and a freedom from friction.
- Agreement or harmony is another opposite of friction representing peace and compatibility.
Picture the areas of your organization coming together like a set of precision gears for a particular job. Each gear machined within high tolerances to mesh tightly with the next for maximum mechanical advantage. Gears that can be reconfigured dynamically like a transmission to speed up, slow down or to change direction.
And there you are, the CIO and your IT department which embodies your values and models your behaviors. And the eternal question – do eliminate more friction than you create?
One of the strongest opportunities for CIO’s to add value is to proactively look for friction in the business that can be made smooth. Sometimes that is through automation with frictionless business processes.
When the business cannot be made smooth, look for ways to add a lubricant to at least create some slipperiness.
But many times, the easiest way for IT to eliminate friction is to focus on creating agreement by adopting a strategy of saying ‘Yes’.
In many ways CIO’s can achieve harmony by simply getting out of the way where sometimes the their involvement can act like sand in the gearbox in the name of process, security, and centralized services.
Measuring CIO Coefficient of Friction
Instead, if you wanted to measure your own CIO Coefficient of Friction simply have your organization rate you on a scale of resistance versus lubricity and disagreement versus harmony. Or more simply, do you make things easier or harder to get done and do you look for ways to Yes more than you do No.
But, I suspect most CIO’s instinctively have a feel for their own CIO Coefficient of Friction.