Do you know what is on your company’s VTO, or Vision/Traction Organizer? The VTO is a two-page document Gene Wickman and his team at EOS Worldwide created to help C-level leaders bring focus and clarity to what their company will become and how it will get there. This document takes both a short (one-quarter) and long-term view (10 years) of where the company is going.
For the vision to be effective, leadership from across the company will need to buy-in and work together to move the business in the desired direction. One of the major points Mr. Wickman makes is that a firm has three functional areas – sales, delivery, and administration – and if one of these areas is weak or the areas do not work together, the company will struggle to fulfill its vision. Thus, it is important for each leader to recognize and understand how their actions will support or impact other areas of the company.
As a technology consulting firm, the role we are most interested in, is that of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). This role continues to evolve and is much more than just the day-to-day oversight of IT operations and ensuring that all of the computers work. In this day and age, CIOs are viewed as key contributors to formulating organizational goals as the storage, transmission, and analysis of electronic information grows and permeates all functions of a business. Thus, this position should be included in the leadership team as you develop your company’s plans.
This person (or an outside firm as a virtual CIO) will be critical to formulating and executing the VTO. He or she will help you understand what is possible and make the right technology investments across all the areas of the company.
Without going into too much detail, the EOS process has six major steps, with the first two being extremely critical to your success when working with a CIO. You want the right person in this role.
- Vision: Whom you hire or promote depends entirely on how well they align with your culture and values. Your values and goals are infused in everything you do with all employees until everyone is in 100% alignment.
- Right People, Right Seat: You want someone who shares your vision who also a) gets the job, b) wants the job, and c) has the capacity to do the job.
- If you do not have the right person for your company in the CIO role it will make it difficult to execute on the vision you have for the company and follow through with the rest of the steps needed for success. Further, it is likely that the individual will lag in one area, not provide as much output as you need, or there will be detrimental friction with the company culture. The next four steps are:
- Data Never Lies: You need data, not gut instincts, to measure and make decisions. Fundamentally, a CIO can help you obtain this information (but getting this data is not why your CIO hire is important)
- Solve Your Primary Issues: You will learn to quickly identify, discuss, and solve any issues you encounter – which will need a culture that promotes transparency and a shared vision. When issues are first identified they are often the symptom of other issues that impact or are impacted by multiple parts of the company. With technology located in many aspects of a company’s operations, it is likely it will play a role in the issue or issue resolution.
- Create Consistent and Efficient Processes: Define and document internal processes for everything from hiring to managing projects
- Traction: A company vision without traction is like a car without tires. The “tires” in this case are two simple, but immensely powerful tools. Rocks and a meeting pulse.
The rocks are short-term 90-day objectives that each member of your leadership team will work on. An example might be the Human Resources department’s rollout of a new applicant tracker system (ATS). While this initiative may not be owned by the CIO, they (and the rest of the management team) will assist in both the planning and execution. Part of the planning will take place in the weekly and quarterly meetings – the meeting pulse. In these meetings, the leadership team will discuss issues (see step 4). Oftentimes, you will find that the stated issue will be the symptom of an underlying problem; thus, it is important to get to the heart of the matter and see how the issue impacts all of your departments or how all of the departments can contribute to resolving it.
At the end of the day, the company leadership needs to work as a team. Each person will have their strengths to contribute. If you are all are not on the same page with the vision or the culture it will be a grind or a struggle to execute the corporate vision even if some of the best and brightest minds are on your team. Given that your CIO will touch all aspects of your business and that companies use technology more and more in daily operations – it is critical that you have the right person in the right seat. At the end of the day, you need a healthy, focused leadership team and organization that makes continual progress towards achieving everything in its vision.