Thursday, August 28, 2008

 

Are more CIOs getting fired?

Abbie Lundberg, editor in chief of CIO magazine wrote on this topic but left out some important insights...



How many CIOs do you know that attempt to treat IT as business as usual where every problem gets rephrased as a challenge that is immediately confronted by a thinly veiled chock-a-block eye candy Powerpoint presentation that lacks substance or becomes an opportunity to see buy a product on the magic quadrant to fill a niche when they should have instead focused on a longer term view by encouraging their existing vendors to do help them enable the strategic intent. Being a CIO requires more than handwaving.

Back up the school bus and bring in your favorite insulting firm to help you with strategy without realizing that this isn't just about them pulling something out of their knowledge management systems and charging you six figures to do search and replace with a little bit of ceremony piled on top. While this is a different circus, using the same clowns won't get you that far.

As a profession, we need to stop bullshitting as we are more reactive now than in any other time in history. There is nothing truly strategic that IT does. OK, I know that your incestual habit of word overloading is going to cloud your thinking, but stick with this thought for a moment and acknowledge that crisis is what gets most projects funded and being proactive rarely works. Let's skip the whole perception thing and look at reality by figuring out how long it takes for your enterprise to roll out upgrades to new products that will obviously provide more features that can be leveraged as the litmus test.

Nowadays, it is rare to see a CIO stay in the same position for more than five years. If everyone knows this dirty little secret, then can we really expect someone in that role to truly think strategic? I would wager that turnover within IT organizations only serves to benefit those who are turning over and in the long haul hurts the business. The mindset of show me the money now is more important than loyalty, stewardship or even fiscal responsibility. It is no longer about making business better, it is though all about what you can sell within a specific time horizon.

Let's throw the baby out with the bath water. Did your enterprise just get a new CIO? I bet he/she walked in the door thinking that whatever the last person did wasn't right and know that they were brought in to do things differently. So, doing things differently will most certainly address perception management but different doesn't mean better, it simply means different.

CIOs you have been wildly successful in outsourcing all the folks who otherwise would have sucked up to you and have been successful in reducing expenses by outsourcing to India. What's next? Oops, you have no clue as you may be a one-hit wonder.

Within my own network of enterprise architects, I rarely run across any of them that aspire to become a CIO no matter how well positioned they may be. The funny thing is that most enterprise architects have an understanding of cause and effect and therefore understand that doing things differently may not always be the right answer. Yes, change is needed within most IT shops but it is more than just rolling out a brand new shiny process. It is also more than just selling the notion of governance as most folks really don't want to step in it. Change has to be targeted at winning the hearts and minds of those within IT such that change is something that isn't sold but something folks truly want to do for themselves.

Which does your CIO care more about? The morale of the troops or the perceptions of their boss? Of course both are important, but which is more important? Leadership requires followership and you can't be simply appointed a leader. Leadership and management are not interchangeable words. For CIOs that haven't figured out this dirty little secret, maybe you have already noodled that the acronym for CIO may stand for Career Is Over...




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