Having left London, Craig and I have spent time with various organisations in Copenhagen and Brussels. I had my final site visit in Belgium yesterday (Friday, 23rd). One key theme to come through from these visits was leadership of change.

So, whilst in Brussels I did some research and managed to get some photos of leaders from days gone by. I won't say who they are but from their statues we might deduce some of their leadership styles, attributes, and techniques.

Blog 8 heroic battle charge The first guy looks like a fearless ‘follow me’ sort of leader with a dose of command and control.
Blog 8 Contemplative dude The second guy looks like a strategic thinker and a leader who takes responsibility on behalf of his people.
Blog 8 arm rasied in supplication  The third guy is a leader who seems to advocate negotiation and collaboration in difficult circumstances.


Whether it's style, attribute or technique, there is no perfect leader who ticks all the boxes and often the leadership requirement changes based on the circumstances ? except for the one common success factor ? judging from these Belgian statues ? you must have a horse!

Throughout the meetings in mainland Europe, I was struck by the quite different business models across EU member states. There is no clear blueprint that can be copied holus-bolus into another jurisdiction. However, every organisation has had some great innovations and techniques that can be adapted into any environment.

We have seen examples of people driving:

  1. efficiency through shared services
  2. effectiveness through getting the prescribed business result
  3. transformation through applying entirely new business models enabled by the digital world.

There have been the repeated themes from our site visits that technology is increasingly inseparable and indistinguishable from the business, and the need to move rapidly on the huge gap with citizen expectations of digital service delivery. We have also have seen great things being achieved with technology, where success has come down to leadership, and particularly leadership through change. We've seen examples where the leaders have not necessarily been the senior managers.

The essence of technology deployment is to continuously change things, then industrialise the thing you have just changed, and then change things again (more parallel than linear). And at the receiving end of this continuous cycle are groups of system users and end customers who expect stability and predictability, but also a rapid pace of innovation.

This greatly magnifies the challenge of the technology leader. There is an unerring expectation of end consumers about the predictability of technology while looking forward to the next imminent change. 

On this trip I have learned some great models for how to manage these diametric forces, and have also been privileged to see some of them successfully actioned. Without exception, the successes have demonstrated excellent leadership though change. And in this era of digitalisation, change is now continuous, involving how people do their jobs and how people interact with your organisation.

Many vendors and consultants will tell you that they have the complete toolset and the magic approach. However, I hope we are not in the business of buying magic beans. Don't get me wrong, most vendors and consultants offer some great: knowledge, insights, tools, and services, but at the end of the day you, the owner, have to know that it's been put together right.

The crucial component that vendors/consultants can't do is directly lead people through change into new ways of doing business, or a quite different role.

The digital revolution, now underway, has already brought us amazing new capabilities and amazing apps. These now need to be integrated in a way that makes sense to our businesses. Unfortunately no app you can download does this integration for us, or lead people into a new future.

As I said in an earlier blog, many of the age-old truisms of leadership apply. In the hectic paced era of digitalisation age they are just as important.

Blog 8 Dudes with sword

Back to our Belgian leader statues: I'm not sure how effective these two guys are as leaders. They can't decide who is holding the sword (basic roles and responsibilities) AND they don't have a horse. So having a horse really is the magic ingredient of leadership!

Anyway, this is the last blog from the Craig and David joint venture.

I would also like to thank LDC for this great opportunity.

Hearing insights into the latest research and talking with dozens of other CIOs and many organisations ? exploring their successes and failures has been awesome. After many years in the information technology business, and seeing many fads, it is clear to me that this digital revolution is different. It is led from a new business perspective of what is possible rather than simply automating the old. It's also an era where technologists become business leaders, and where leadership is paramount. As Craig said in blog 7 this means a changing role for the CIO. Based on what I've learned, I will return with a new message and strategies. It has been a fantastic three week learning experience.

I am grateful to the many senior people who shared with me openly ? which needed to be respected by not identifying them in a publicly accessible blog.  I hope that people reading this still got the essence of these conversations.

I would also like to thank Craig Soutar who has been great to work with, and who came up with the excellent idea of collaborating to apply for a joint LDC Fellowship.