Blog

Digital Leadership on the Fly

Thursday, May 31, 2018
Paula Klein

Autonomy, speed, openness, and impact are key factors to creating a digital organization. Sure, it’s easier if you’re at a “born-digital” enterprise, but traditional businesses can — and must — adopt these values, as well. That was one takeaway message MIT IDE Principal Research Scientist, George Westerman, offered attendees at the May 23, MIT CIO Symposium.

Leading a discussion on Creating a Digital Culture, Westerman prodded panelists for examples of how executives can actually achieve the elusive goal of organizational change in the face of rapid-fire digital technology advancements. Andrei Oprisan, VP of Technology at Liberty Mutual, and Director of the Boston Tech Hub, underscored the importance of getting it right: “Everything is on the table. We’re seeing Amazon and Google getting into our space; we know we can build products faster and better, but we must unlock talent and shorten time spans,” to stay competitive. In short, “we have to reinvent ourselves,” he said.

Cultural changes can be small — like loosening the dress code — or large, such as embracing tech hubs and “trusting employees to solve problems and then getting out of the way.” Most of all, Oprisan said to “be open to failure and evolve quickly.”

(Watch the video of this panel session here.)

. . .

Later in the day, Westerman spoke with CIO leaders for their tips and advice. Harmeen Mehta, Global CIO and Head of Digital at Bharti Airtel (pictured above with George Westerman to her left), takes a firm stance as a technology evangelist: Most CEOs “are old school and don’t know too much about technology or innovation. CIOs have to pitch ideas and be assertive,” she said. As IT leader of India’s largest telecom operator, Mehta’s approach has led her to many successes including winning the CIO Leadership Award at this year’s Symposium.

 

Read the full blog on Medium, here.