C-Suite Leadership

In-between Transformation and Innovation: How Technology Leaders Identify and Lead Transition

Technology leaders are in an opportune moment to move business forward from transformation into innovation. But there is one critical mistake that will prove costly. Effective technology leaders know how to lead in-between movements and avoid outpacing others.

Scott Smeester


June 9, 2022

I’m a driver. I relate to the story of American travelers on an African safari being led by local guides. In typical, driver fashion, they planned well and trekked hard. The first three days, they rose early and they traveled fast and far.

The fourth day was different. The travelers were up early, ready to go. The guides didn’t move. They sat by a tree that provided shade. They nursed their breakfast, and they talked and laughed. But they did not move.

Irritated, one American asked a translator to explain why the guides were resting. He answered, “They are waiting for their souls to catch up to their bodies.”

Technology leaders and their teams have trekked hard. Studies indicate that the majority of CIOs have seen their roles elevated. You earned a voice in the clamor of commotion. Whatever time plan was in place for digital transformation within your company was accelerated. You are not a foreigner to early mornings, late nights, and threats. It was quite the safari.

Unless careful, you will make a very critical mistake. 

You will not pause. 

Having made some key advances (seat at the table, digital transformation, remote efficiency), you may be tempted to maximize your leverage. After all, we know where we want to go. We are driving towards:

  • Accelerated innovation that eyes future business realities (we are strategists)
  • Continued transformation that strengthens our place and collaboration (we are change-agents)
  • Expanded position that leverages business trust toward greater IT delivery

How To Lead The In-Between

Your business, especially as it interfaces with technology, must let their souls catch up.

What does it mean to let the soul of your company catch up with the pace of your leadership?

Six areas of focus in times of transition:

  1. Operational efficiency (that merits the tech investment)
  2. Digital outcomes (that delivers on the initiatives)
  3. Security upgrades (that reduces corporate risk)
  4. Collaboration solidified (that makes a new norm)
  5. Customer-experience prioritized (that co-creates with business)
  6. Employee-engagement and development customized (that builds to the future)

It’s one thing to rally in a crisis. You have done so. It’s another thing to rest after a crisis. It goes against the grain of our driver. But you must shore up before you strike out.

It’s also one thing to be involved in business as a necessity. Crisis will do that. It’s another to be a part of their essence. You can be that. But it is not they who must keep pace with you. You must keep pace with the business, at least for now. 

Once in step, as measured by the six dynamics above, then you will be able to introduce innovation that directs, if not hastens, the pace.


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