Tips for Talking Strategy with the CEO

When was the last time you and the CEO sat down to talk one-on-one about business strategy?

If you haven’t done so lately, it’s time. The business environment is rapidly evolving, and these days, IT departments are expected to be much more than the traditional “build-and-run.” But, are you and the CEO on the same page? Does the C-suite know about the challenges IT faces and the value it can deliver?

If you’re looking for some guidance to get the conversation off the ground, be sure to spend a few minutes with Chris Curran’s recent article in ComputerWorld. In it, Chris outlines a handful of the most salient talking points, issues that will “capture the CEO's attention and raise the level of discourse to a more strategic level.” Chris’ list includes:

  • Mobilization. Does the CEO know that mobility can be a game changer? Adding mobility enhances marketing, inventory management, risk mitigation, etc.
  • Battles over IT funding. Point out that today’s IT innovations often cross organizational lines. A separate funding source can squelch inter-departmental debates on funding responsibilities.
  • The barriers of outdated technology and process. CEOs now expect IT to yield efficiencies and competitive advantage. But old, inflexible and/or rogue applications can cripple even the best-intentioned strategy.

See the article for a more complete discussion of these topics (and others) and allow me add just one more. It’s also important to remind the C-suite that making the business management of technology pervasive across the enterprise is key to long-term success. The value of IT-business alignment will only be fully realized when it touches every facet of the IT organization so that the business stakeholders truly understand the discrete unit costs of the services being provided.

At first, adopting this kind of new IT organizational plan may seem like a daunting task, but keep in mind that you can start out small. Keep your initial goals simple. Start out with a single-use case, and build from there.  A quick win can help secure executive sponsorship for broader initiatives down the road –and you can talk about those the next time you sit down with the CEO.