The Envelope Rule

I think it sums up the challenges of being CIO nicely.

First day on the job as the new CIO you notice 3 envelopes in the top drawer of your desk. The first envelope says “Open Me.” Inside is a note from your predecessor that provides insight on the organization, issues, culture, concerns, etc. You read it, throw it in the trash and go about your business as the new CIO. A year later you’re not happy with the progress of the organization and you remember the second envelope that says “Open me if you are not happy with the way things are going.” You open it and a single word is written on a piece of paper; “Reorganize.” You take the advice this time and spend several months forming teams and reorganizing hoping to get results linked to the business. You call it “IT Transformation.” Another year goes by and things are marginally improving but you are still unhappy with the results. The business is unhappy with IT and the CEO is unhappy due to growing costs. You notice the third envelope that says “Open me if things still are not the way you would like them.” You open it and it says; “Create 3 envelopes.”

The moral of the story is to not get hung up on big transformation projects and reorganization to create yet another organization that is not functional. Make changes in small, manageable pieces and make sure any change is linked to improving the business of IT or the business of your company.

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One thought on “The Envelope Rule

  1. I’ve heard a sort of similar story before but from a managerial accounting perspective. Basically it was also with three envelopes and I forgot exactly how it went but one of the envelopes said blame the previous manager/CEO and the last envelope also was, create three envelopes like in your story. I think that story was supposed to be more of a joke though than a moral.

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