How to set (achievable) resolutions for 2014

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While there may be thousands of jokes about New Year’s resolutions, they do hold a kernel of good sense. From time to time, it’s good to review different elements of your life with the aim of making some improvements. And what better way to do that than with some well thought-out and realistic New Year’s resolutions.

On the subject of New Year’s resolutions, the American composer Leonard Bernstein put it best: “From New Year’s on, the outlook brightens; good humor lost in a mood of failure returns. I resolve to stop complaining.” The point is that most of us rather enjoy failing to stick to the resolutions we made in a haze of optimism on New Year’s Eve, even as we moan about being disappointed.

Nevertheless, the festive season gives us a chance to reflect on the year just gone, and to think about the 12 months ahead. And while objectives set with little thought are doomed to failure, it makes sense to give yourself new goals to aim for, as long as they’re achievable.

Far be it from me to tell you how to live your life (I’m with Mark Twain, who said of the New Year: “Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”) but, when it comes to being a better CIO, here are five suggestions for 2014:

  • Take up smoking. Because they get all the gossip during their cigarette breaks, smokers know everything that goes on in a business. I’m not honestly suggesting you take up the habit, but do learn from the point. One striking finding in EY’s The DNA of the CIO study is that CIOs want to play a more strategic role — in close partnership with every other part of the business. It is also clear that others in the C-suite sometimes feel that their CIOs are still not achieving this. In 2014, make it a priority to get out of your office and around the whole organization as frequently as possible.
  • Put on weight. CIOs currently have so many exciting opportunities that it’s all too easy to fail to get to grips with any of them. This year, select the two areas in which you can deliver your business the greatest competitive advantage — whether that’s analytics, BYOD, cloud or something else — and focus on putting as much meat as possible into IT’s offerings in these areas.
  • Do less exercise. It is becoming vital for businesses to use social media in a way that helps them interact effectively with their key stakeholders. Businesses need the social media tools and innovations that drive commercial advantage —whether that comes in the form of internal intranet, customer-facing interactive experiences or anything else. CIOs who deliver these tools will find their status in the company soaring. And all without leaving their desks.
  • Eat and drink more. CIOs rarely spend enough time with their business’s customers. You don’t have to commit to an endless round of boozy dinners with clients. But do try this year to seek out formal and informal opportunities to spend time with the people who spend money with your company. You’ll be a more commercially minded CIO as a result.
  • Stop being so honest. Many CIOs concede that they need to work on their communication skills. This is an important challenge, given how IT is becoming more central to the strategic future of businesses. In 2014, spend time thinking about how you interact with the rest of the business, and focusing on building better relationships. (But don’t feel you have to share your resolutions with anyone.) See my post — “How to sell yourself with subtlety.” A key skill for CIOs is storytelling.

Now, you’ll no doubt have spotted that these resolutions are a bit tongue-in-cheek. Still, there’s a serious point: with a bit of thought over the Christmas break, CIOs can come up with some great ideas on being more effective in 2014. But for now, do make sure you enjoy the festive season.

When you come back, please join in on the comments section below. Be sure to share your tales of holiday relaxation and the achievable resolutions you’ve set for 2014.

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