What does my boss never want to hear? Ian Cox, a prominent commentator on the role of the CIO recently published an open letter to all CEOs. The letter contains five pieces of advice every CEO should hear about the role of the CIO and how a CEO can support them more. The corollary of the positive advice in this open letter is the items that you as CIO want never want to get to in a conversation with the CEO about.
1 – Please can you give me some clarity on my role? As a CIO you are a member of the Executive of the organisation. Use that role to clarify what is needed from you by the business. Get closer to the business and then become part of it rather than waiting for the boss to provide detailed direction.
2 – This will never fail, I can guarantee you! Delivery of a digital fabric to any organisation cannot be done without breaking some eggs along the way. Do not promise the improbable. Educate the CEO that failure will happen, and when it occurs you will be there to ensure it fails it is fixed quickly and lessons will be learnt.
3 – I don’t need you to be involved in that project, its technical and therefore my area! Enthuse the CEO with technology, don’t put anyone off. If your leadership team wants to be involved find ways to let them. The promotion of digital solutions as the answer to some problems needs to be promoted from the very top; a CIO with an enthused CEO is far more likely to get engagement on delivery.
4 – I really don’t need to be part of the board, its all about the business. See point one, you are no longer IT as a CIO. You are part of the business and therefore you are an equal partner in the decision making process of your organisation and need to be around the table, ensuring that the view of your expert area can be applied. Your expert area is not going to be ‘just’ technology if you have got right the fact that you are a facilitator to deliver business change.
5 – I’m here to make sure IT is up and running not deliver profit or avoid loss. No, no, no. Technology is a catalyst for business change; business change is required to make an organisation more efficient, less risky or simply to improve the customer experience. Get involved in this conversation and your peers will then be able to understand the value of what you offer more clearly and with an enthusiasm you have not seen before.
Now I am sure most CEOs would list a whole lot of more common sense based things they don’t want to hear, “I’m leaving tomorrow”, “We have just lost millions of pieces of information to a cyberattack” or “I’m off to marry my PA”. But, if a CIO wants to build engagement and ensure that technology is at the heart of the delivery of your organisation I would avoid these five things too!
This blog was originally written for http://www.zdnet.com