Design Thinking and the Rise of Chief Information Officers

The business world is constantly evolving and as such the skills once necessary to become a manager are rapidly changing. Business schools are continuously examining how best to train future business leaders to take on these new global challenges and one of the ideas which has emerged is that of a 360° managers – that is to say a manager with a wide range of skills.

Some schools have already started to implement teaching that supports an interdisciplinary approach to management education.  For example, Northwestern University in the U.S. launched a dual MBA and Masters in Management Engineering program in 2007. The program aims to produce managers, general managers, and CEOs who can integrate design thinking into strategy and management

It seems as though the race is on to give business education a makeover as more schools are catching on and trying to catch up. But, as schools are producing these new crops of multi-disciplinary managers, it is important to remember to include technical training in the curriculum.

This seems to be an important element that can’t be neglected because according to McKinsey Director and this month’s Council Community Host, Gordon Orr, the day of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is coming.

“The productivity imperative is making technology a top team priority for the first time in many enterprises. There are enormous opportunities for people who can talk about technology and business together to become really invaluable advisors to CEOs,” says Orr.

Traditionally, CIOs were expected to put the wiring together or manage PCs and technical equipment, but no one ever thought to ask if they could think strategically or if they could communicate about the pros and cons of business models.  But that is all changing and the role of CIO is evolving.

Orr thinks that strong CIOs should expect large compensation increases – they are the key executives in everything from aligning IT and business strategies to building stronger internal IT teams and adopting new technologies, such as cloud computing or big data. CIOs play a crucial part in many aspects of the business. “They have to be at the table during the board meetings,” says Orr. CEOs should have someone who understands what the [technological] changes should be.

What do you think? Is digital training and technology an important element of design thinking? Have you seen other examples of design thinking programs in the business education world? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!

More than just an annual forum, the Council on Business & Society Global Alliance is an ongoing international dialogue – The Council Community helps bring together business leaders, academics and journalists from around the world. #CouncilonBusinessandSociety

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