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The CEO Best Practices Technology Arc

Similar to the chief IT executive arc, the CEO best practices arc is an instrument for assessing the technology best practices of CEOs. The arc evaluates a CEO’s strategic uses of technology and leader- ship by using a grid that charts competencies ranging from conceptual knowledge about technology to more complex uses of technology and business and how they are integrated in strategic business planning.

As with all arc models, the CEO version measures five principal stages of a CEO’s maturity with respect to business applications of technology: conceptual, structural, executive values, executive eth- ics, and executive leadership. Each dimension or sector is measured in five stages of maturation that guide the CEO’s executive growth managing technological dynamism. The first stage is being reflec- tively aware about their conceptual knowledge of technology and what it can do for the organization. The second is other centered- ness, by which CEOs become aware of the multiplicity of business uses of technology and the different views that can exist inside and outside the organization. The third is integration of business use of technology; a CEO can begin to combine how business plans foster the need for technology. The fourth is implementation of business/ technology process, meaning that the CEO understands how busi- ness applications and technology are used together and is resilient to nonauthentic sources of emerging technologies. Stage four rep- resents an ongoing commitment to implementing both technology and business applications. The fifth refers to strategic uses of tech- nology; CEOs have reached a stage at which their judgment on using technology and business is independent and can be used to self-educate. Thus, as CEOs grow in knowledge of business uses of technology, they can become increasingly more understanding of the multiplicity of uses, can become more integrated in how they conceptualize technology, can manage its implementation from an executive position, and can apply strategies to support new applica- tions of technology in the organization.

Definitions of Maturity Stages and Dimension Variables in the CEO Technology Best Practices Arc

Maturity Stages

1. Conceptual knowledge of technology: This first stage represents the CEO’s capacity to learn, conceptualize, and articulate key issues relating to business uses of technology, organizational structures available, executive value methods, executive ethi- cal issues surrounding technology, and leadership alternatives that are needed to be successful with technology applications.

2. Multiplicity of business perspectives of technology: This stage indicates the CEO’s ability to integrate multiple points of view from management, staff, and consultants about technol- ogy applications in business. Using these new perspectives, the CEO augments his or her conceptual skills with technol- ogy, has an expanded view of what organizational structures might work best, expands his or her executive values about technology uses, is increasingly aware of the ethical dilemmas with technology, and enhances his or her leadership abilities.

3. Integration of business uses of technology: Maturing CEOs accu- mulate increased understanding of how technology can sup- port the business, provide more competitive advantage, and have a more integrated understanding of how to use their conceptual skills about technology, of the alternative organi- zational structures available, of how to combine their business executive value and ethical systems, and how to develop effec- tive levels of executive leadership.

1. Implementation of business/technology process: CEOs achieve integration when they can regularly apply their conceptual knowledge of technology, organization structures, executive values and ethics about technology, and executive leadership, appropriate for performing their job duties, not only ade- quately, but at a level that provides a competitive advantage for the organization.

2. Strategic uses of technology: Leadership is attained by the CEO when he or she can employ conceptual skills, develop new organizational structures as necessary, establish new values and ethics that are appropriate for the organization, and create a sense of executive presence to lead the organiza- tion strategically. This CEO is capable of having new vision about how business and technology can be expanded into new endeavors.

Performance Dimensions

1. Technology concepts: Concerns conceptual skills, specifically related to understanding how technology can be used in the business. This dimension essentially establishes the CEO as technically proficient, conceptually, and forms a basis for movement to more complex and mature stages of business/ technology development.

2. Organizational structures: The knowledge of the alternative organizational structures that can support the application of emerging technology in corporate settings with regard to roles, responsibilities, career paths, and organizational report- ing alternatives.

3. Executive values: Measures the CEO’s ability to articulate and act on mainstream technological values credited with shaping the work ethic: independent initiative, dedication, honesty, and personal identification with career goals, based on the philosophy of the management protocol of the organization.

4. Executive ethics: Reflects the CEO’s commitment to the edu- cation and professional advancement of the behavior of the organization as it relates to business uses of technology.

5. Executive leadership: Involves the CEO’s view of the role of an executive in business, and the capacity to succeed in tan- dem with his or her organizational resources. Aspects include a devotion to organizational learning and self-improvement, self-evaluation, the ability to acknowledge and resolve busi- ness/technology conflicts, and resilience when faced with per- sonal and professional challenges.

Figure 12.6 shows a graphic view of the CEO technology best practices arc. Each cell in the arc provides the condition for assess- ment. The complete arc is provided in Table 12.2.

Middle Management

Middle management, which comprises a number of tiers, is perhaps the most challenging of best practices to define. In Chapter 3, I strati- fied the different types of positions that make up middle managers into three tiers: directors, line managers, and supervisors. What is most important at this point is to determine the set of technology best practices for managers so that they can effectively operate under ROD. That is, technology best practices must be designed to contain the insights and skills for effective management of technology. This must include

1. Working with IT personnel

2. Providing valuable input to the executive management team,

including the CEO

3. Participating and developing a technology strategy within

their business units

4. Effectively managing project resources, including technical


5. Leading innovative groups in their departments

6. Incorporating technology into new products and services

7. Developing proactive methods of dealing with changes in technology

8. Investigating how technology can improve competitive advantage.

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As with CEO research, there are myriad best practices that have been offered as a method of dealing with the subject of technology management. Unfortunately, these practices usually are vague and intermingle management levels and departments; that is, it is diffi- cult to know whether the best practice is for the chief IT executive, the CEO, or some other level of management. We know from the research from Bolman and Deal (1997) that middle managers feel torn by conflicting signals and pressures they get from both senior management and the operations that report to them: “They need to understand the difference in taking risks and getting punished for mistakes” (p. 27). According to Bolman and Deal (1997), best prac- tices for middle managers need to cover the following areas:

1. Knowledge management2. Alignment3. Leadership and commitment 4. Organization5. Human resources6. Opportunity management

7. Leveraging8. Performance assessment

Their study covered more than 400 companies in the eight areas of concern. I extracted 10 middle management-related best practices from their study results and concluded that middle managers need to

1. Understand how to take a strategy and implement it with technology; that is, they need to create tactics for completing the project.

2. Establish team-building measures for linking technology with daily operations of the staff.

3. Foster the aggregation and collaboration of business unit assets to form peer groups that can determine joint efforts for implementing new technologies.

4. Stimulate their staffs using innovative strategies of value propositions and reward systems.

5. Create multifunctional teams that can focus on particu- lar aspects of how technology affects their specific area of expertise.

6. Follow common project management practices so that mul- titier and department projects can be globally reviewed by senior management.

7. Form project teams that can respect and perform on an action basis; that is, teams that are action oriented.

1. Understand how to communicate with, and use, IT staff on projects.

2. Have a systematic process for gathering intelligence relating to pertinent technology developments.

3. Understand that customers are the drivers for technology tools provided by the organization.

On reviewing the different aspects of middle manager best practices with technology research, it appears that there are two focal points: (1) those best practices that address the needs of senior management, the CIO, and the CEO; and (2) those that are geared toward the management of the staffs who need to implement emerging technol- ogy projects.

This makes sense, given that the middle manager, notwith- standing whether a director, line manager, or supervisor, needs to deal with executive productivity-related issues as well as staff implementation ones. They are, as Bolman and Deal (1997) state, “torn” by these two competing organizational requirements. Table 12.3 represents the combined list of technology-based best practices organized by executive best practices and implementation best practices.

Table 12.3 exemplifies the challenge that middle managers have in balancing their priorities. In accordance with the research, the best practices mentioned are implemented using methods of knowledge management, alignment, leadership and commitment, human resources, opportunity management, leveraging, and per- formance assessment. As with the other best practices, the middle manager technology best practices are limited because they do not address the specific needs of ROD, particularly organizational learning theories (with the exception of knowledge management). This shortfall is integrated into another developmental arc model that combines these theories with the preceding definitions of best practices.

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