Looking into the Future

After 9/11, the US vowed never to be caught by surprise again. They created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to coordinate the intelligence gathering of a quarter of a million employees. On January 5th, the DHS intelligence summary said “Nothing significant to report.” On January 6th, a mob overwhelmed unprepared police at the Capitol and went rampaging through the building.

Companies are also regularly blindsided by events that in hindsight were obvious. You are gathering a lot of information, but it can be very hard to sift out actionable knowledge. Throwing a huge pile of data to a team of data scientists asking them to find the hidden patterns have rarely been successful.

For you as CIO to be able to peer into the future, you need to disengage from the daily running of the organization. It takes several days away from screens, news, email, and social media before the intuition you have can manifest itself, and generate new insights. Can you step away from your organization for several days? If not, your organization and procedures need some work.