Will Chief Resilience Officers become the latest threat to corporate IT leadership?

On a recent consulting project related to the growth and development of smart cities around the world, I repeatedly bumped into the latest trendy C-title. While mostly in leadership roles in urban governments, the Chief Resilience Officer has become the connective tissue between disparate departments in city governments.

The role of the Chief Resilience Officer centers largely on assuring agility in the coordinated mobilization of all city services as they relate to physical, social and economic challenges. Although many focus on major nature-related disasters, others have expanded the definition to so-called “slow motion disasters” such as poverty and, more recently, Ebola.

To add further credibility to the Chief Resilience Officer title, the Rockefeller Foundation has endowed funds for the establishment of this new C-title throughout the U.S. though its 100 Resilient Cities Challenge.

The selected cities receive:

  • Funding to hire a Chief Resilience Officer;
  • Assistance in developing a resilience strategy;
  • Access to a platform of innovative private- and public-sector tools to help design and implement that strategy.

It goes without saying that governance of such a resilience-driven central nervous system has heavy overlaps with the remit of the office of the CIO.

While this is incredibly interesting to those IT leaders involved in smart cities and urban governments, what does it have to do with enterprise IT in non-governmental settings?

The fact is that “resilience” is a buzzword that will not be limited to cities and states for very long. We roll our eyes at the thought of a Chief Agility Officer, but branding a corporate headquarters position as a Chief Resilience Officer reflects the ability to negotiate rapid changes in the business world largely driven by technology. It also has a mystique conducive to corporate storytelling at the personal brand and corporate communications levels.

As with the equally trendy Chief Digital Officer and Chief Data Scientist titles, enterprise IT must determine how much of their turf they are willing to concede to a headquarters “resilience czar.”

At minimum I would suggest that CIOs should pepper presentations to the CEO’s office with references to market and corporate resilience and the invaluable position IT has in that strategy. This should be a key aspect of your “Brand Called IT” strategy that we will discuss in upcoming blog posts.

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