I received an email from Strategic CIO Journal entitled – Top CIOs Become Business Process Czars. 

The key focus of the article was raising the bar on CIOs to become more broadly engaged in the overall business and the processes to deliver value.


Now, I’m not going to critique the article. Because it was the title alone that inspired this response. It made me think about senior technology leaders – CTOs, CIOs, and any senior technology leader in a larger organization.

It made me think of their Prime Directive. Is it: 

  1. Technology Leadership?

  2. Business Process Leadership?

  3. Or is it, Culture Builder?

The article seemed to allude to role moving from a focus on #1 to #2. And that is a relevant and important shift given today’s Digital Transformation strategy focus.

But that being said, in some ways, I think the article set the bar too low or in the wrong direction.

Culture, we don’t need no Stinkin’ Culture

From my perspective, the number one focus for senior leadership in today’s companies should be focused towards culture. That is, are they influencing, supporting, and creating the right cultural ecosystem so that their teams can solve ALL of the technology and business process challenges facing them.

Instead of the leaders being the primary technical or business problem-solvers, they’re creating a culture of:

  • Accountability

  • Ownership

  • Transparency

  • Trust

  • Driving Value

  • Active Listening

  • Innovation & Creativity

  • Space

  • Empowerment

  • Technical Excellence

  • Delighting the Customer

  • Risk Taking and Experimentation

  • Learning

  • Collaboration

  • Organizational flatness for decision-making

Wrapping up

As a leader in today’s technology organizations, it’s incredibly easy to be pulled into the inner workings of the technology or business processes.

Far too easy.

It’s usually in our sweet spot of experience. It’s tactical and immediate. Let’s face it, we get a strong sense of accomplishment by fixing things in these two spaces.

But I’ll always argue, it’s the wrong level. As a leader, you are front and center on setting your culture. Sure, many other factors play a part. But you are the primary actor in culture. What you say, and more importantly, what you do and how you behave sets the cultural landscape.

My recommendation is always to pick CULTURE first and the rest will take care of itself.

Stay agile my friends,


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