business plan.” Several interviewees went so far as to say that tech- nology skills aren’t nearly as important as they once were. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Cen- ter’s Halamka points out that when he was a CIO in 1997, he wrote code. Now the emphasis of his job is knowing the business, creating strategy and influ- encing the organization. David Mathison, founder of the CDO Club, a global professional community of digital officers, concurs. “The technical part of a chief digital officer’s job is becoming less and less im- portant,” he says. “Hitting the ground running and building digitally enabled businesses are becoming much more critical.” While the vast majority of respondents, more than 80%, say their organizations see digital technology as an opportunity, only 26% say their companies see it as a risk. The exuberance ignores the fact that what is good for one company can be just as good for an- other — competitors may be able to quickly catch up. (See Figure 9.) Listening to the environment and learning from it is an equally important leadership expectation. Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, quips that the chief digital officer is also the CLO (chief listening officer) with the re- sponsibility “to listen for new ideas, listen for talent and listen for people who can help us and work in partnership with other organizations.” Interestingly, leaders and employees do not always rec- ognize when they’re “hearing” something of value. UC Santa Barbara professor Leonardi conducted an ex- periment at a major financial service company where managers and employees could use a social media platform to “overhear” what their colleagues were talking about and accelerate the process of finding out who knows what. The experiment proved successful: Participants demonstrably increased their knowledge of who to turn to in the organization. But many par- ticipants didn’t feel like they had learned anything. Leonardi describes this as a paradox between the ability to listen and the modern online search men- tality. “This is the paradox of the system like this, I think, that people learned a lot by just becoming aware. They learned by proactively scanning the environment, without any idea that anything they were gleaning would be useful in the future.” 8 Now, according to Leonardi, we search and gather data when we run into a problem and we only listen to the information that addresses it. He notes that before, people didn’t necessarily think they were learning, but eventually the moment came when the bits and pieces of information came together and added up to something important. The implication: It is hard to value newly created forms of knowledge when you don’t recognize their existence.
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