Barbarians At The Datacenter

The Chief Executive OfficerAs I continue to look for my new CIO role. I am coming across some organizations that are looking outside their respect industry for talent. I recently interviewed with a publishing company who said flat out they want someone not from the publishing world. “Why?” I asked.  They felt that publishing expertise is lagging behind other industries in their use of technology.  I have seen other firms looking for these barbarians to manage their data. It is a refreshing thought.

This is a great opportunity for an organization to bring onboard an innovative disruptor to shake things up. As I have said in the past, change to some extent is good for any organization. As technology marches forward can any CIO say they are an expert in all areas?  Will a CIO have the experience to try new things? To take chances in order to make progress? These are fundamental questions for any CEO or CIO to contemplate.

I strongly believe that a CIO’s developed skills in one industry can be transferred successfully to another industry. Who’s to say that a medical CIO’s experience cannot be used in publishing? Granted there will be a learning curve, but there will be a learning curve for anyone taking on a new leadership role.

It might be scary for some who find comfort in knowing their respective industry inside and out. Myself- I believe that I am that barbarian that looks for new challenges. Working in different industries allows me to increase my marketability and continue to add to my toolbox.

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Core Qualifications to Being Chief

meetingsIn my search for a new leadership role, I came across this in a job description for CIO. This can be applied to any CxO roles.

CIO/CTO EXECUTIVE CORE QUALIFICATIONS:

1 – LEADING CHANGE:  This core qualification involves the ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization, to meet organizational goals. Inherent to this qualification is the ability to establish an organizational vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment.

(Competencies:  creativity and innovation, external awareness, flexibility, resilience, strategic thinking, vision)

2 – LEADING PEOPLE:  This core qualification involves the ability to lead people toward meeting the organization’s vision, mission, and goals. Inherent to this qualification is the ability to provide an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of conflicts.

(Competencies:  conflict management, leveraging diversity, developing others, team building)

3 – RESULTS DRIVEN:  This core qualification involves the ability to meet organizational goals and customer expectations. Inherent to this qualification is the ability to make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems, and calculating risks.

(Competencies:  accountability, customer service, decisiveness, entrepreneurship, problem solving, technical credibility)

4 – BUSINESS ACUMEN:  This core qualification involves the ability to manage human, financial, and information resources strategically.

(Competencies:  financial management, human capital management, and technology management)

5 – BUILDING COALITIONS:  This core qualification involves the ability to build coalitions internally and with other Federal agencies, State and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations, foreign governments, or international organizations to achieve common goals.

(Competencies:  partnering, political savvy, and influencing/negotiating)

8 hours vs 8 hours Plus – When Is Enough Enough?

How much is enough? Are you productive during your 8 hours? Some organizations expect you to put in more than 8 hours. Not really for anything else but to show your dedication to working 12 plus hours each day.

While there are times when one might put in such long days (i.e. after hours maintenance or systems upgrades), I subscribe to the philosophy that if you cannot complete your task or make progress to complete your task then you are doing something wrong. If you are just putting in hours to show your face and not really accomplishing much then you are not efficient and fully maximizing your day.

Why not be efficient and accomplish your tasks in 8 hours or under? It leads to prioritizing work efficiently and the end result is a better quality of life.

So You Want To Be A CIO?

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A friend on mine sent this to me as he looks for a CIO role. Thought it was interesting enough to post:

1.Describe your experience in the development, implementation and administration of operating and capital budgets. Please be specific about your role. Include dollar amounts of budget(s).

2.Describe your experience working with executives and/or boards including preparation and presentations of recommendations regarding programs or policies.

3.What do you consider to be the highlight of your career or the most important contribution that you have made to an organization with which you have been employed?

4.The CIO is occasionally involved in disputes between opposing interest groups. Provide an example of your involvement in negotiation or mediation between such groups. Please describe the process you used and the final outcome.

5.What do you see in the arena of technology in the next 3 – 5 years? How would you prepare a company for the changes?

A Project Score Card

We have started the process of looking at a variety of ERP systems that

will fit our business. In evaluating the functionality of each system we ran into the problem that for the most part each system under review performed a similar function.

We therefore looked at how the systems match each of our business processes. We documented each process in a variety of swim-lane diagrams that shows the major areas/systems the process touches and the end result. It was a worthwhile endeavor that gave tremendous insight into broken processes. We then developed a series of requirements and from there built a matrix with our “current state” and “target state”. Our target state being where we want to be with all the bells and whistles.

We took this information and built a matrix with Actions required and assigned a Value and Score. The score is internal this this project but can be changed accordingly. Below is a sample to give you an idea.

Action

Value

Score

Data Entry – New Item

Core System

10

Data Entry – New Item

Support system

5

Data Entry – New Item

Not Supported

0

Data Entry – Update

Core System

10

Data Entry – Update

Support system

5

Data Entry – Update

Not Supported

0

Information Look Up

Core System

10

Information Look Up

Support system

5

Information Look Up

Not Supported

0

Document Creation

Automated within Core System

15

Document Creation

Manual- within Core system

10

Document Creation

Manual – Support System

5

Document Creation

Not Supported

0

Document Attachment

Requirements fully supported

10

Document Attachment

Requirements partially supported

5

Document Attachment

Not supported

0

Workflow Configuration

Auto apply from rule book

10

Workflow Configuration

Set up work flow every time

5

Workflow Configuration

No workflow supported

0

Sequential Workflow

Requirements fully supported

10

Sequential Workflow

Requirements partially supported

5

Sequential Workflow

Not supported

0

Rule Based Workflow

Requirements fully supported

10

Rule Based Workflow

Requirements partially supported

5

Rule Based Workflow

Not supported

0

 

For CIOs, trying to compare systems, utilizing a score card approach give insight into what direction to take beyond using just cost and functionality information.

The CIO Paradox – A Book Review

I don’t often read books about IT leadership because I find that most try to fit business principles into technology and vice versa.  The square peg into a round hole dilemma.

So when Martha Heller approached me to read an advanced copy of her new book The CIO Paradox: Battling the Contradictions of IT Leadership it felt more like homework.  I am thought to myself here is yet another step‑by‑step guide. And that is where I was wrong – very wrong.

The CIO Paradox by Martha Heller

The CIO Paradox by Martha Heller

For those of you who are not familiar with Martha; for over a decade, she has established herself as a figure in IT leadership. She is President of Heller Search Associates, a Boston-based firm specializing in recruiting CIOs and other IT executives across multiple industries. She is probably best known as a Founder and Managing Director of CIO magazine’s CIO Executive Council, a professional organization for CIOs. It was here that she developed leadership programs for CIOs and directed the CIO Best Practice Exchange, a member-only network of CIOs from top-tier organizations. She continues to engage with CIO audiences through CIO Paradox column, as author of CIO.com’s Movers & Shakers blog, and author of You and Your CIO, a blog on CFO.com.

As a CIO for some time, I often read articles and books but never anything that truly captures the essence of what it means to be a CIO. Does this sound familiar:

  • “Your many successes are invisible; your few mistakes are highly visible.”
  • “You were hired to be strategic, but spend most of your time on operational issues.”
  • “You are the steward of risk mitigation and cost containment, yet you are expected to innovate.”
  • “IT can make or break a company, but CIOs rarely sit on corporate boards.”
  • “You develop successors, yet the CEO almost always goes outside to find the next CIO.”
  • “Technology is a long-term investment, but the company thinks in quarters.”

In the book, Martha posits the collection of CIO paradoxes into four larger categories addressing the multi-faceted influence CIOs have on a company. Below are some of the key paradoxes influencing companies today through the perspective of IT executives that Martha has talked with:

1. The CIO Role: You’re Damned If You Do, and You’re Damned If You Don’t

The mindset surrounding how the CIO should function is based on traditional approaches that limit true innovation. For example, our current era grants CIOs the opportunity to drive serious breakthroughs, but this prospect does not decrease the need for cost efficiencies.

2. The Stakeholders: Will the Business Ever Love IT?

As the business and employees get smarter about technology, the more they dislike IT. This is seen when CIOs are intimately involved in every facet of the business, yet they often don’t get a seat at the table.

3. The CIO’s Staff: They Just Don’t Make Them Like That

Recruiting and developing a core of well-rounded IT professionals is laden with structural obstacles and unrealistic expectations. When a rapidly developing field such as technology hasn’t evolved its recruitment process since the dot-com bust, you know there’s a problem.

4. The Future: What’s Next for the CIO?

The forecast of current and future CIOs is a multidimensional one that can negotiate assumptions for demand. A clear example of this is when the CIO role meets many of the specialties a corporate board values, yet CIOs are rarely appointed a seat.

The CIO Paradox is a book for the everyday CIO. The CIO who is in the trenches dealing with these paradoxes each and everyday. It is a good read with just the right amount of humor and wit to engage and captivate.  This is not average boring IT book….

5 Things Every CIO Should Know…

As CIO, you should …

  1. Know when to try harder and when to walk away. (Being CIO means there will be days you will fail. It is part a part of the job.)
  2. Know who you can trust, who you can’t. (Politics plays an important role in our careers)
  3. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault. (Others will be quick to blame you because it is easy.)
  4. Believe that you deserve being CIO. (You are CIO for a reason. Be a CIO.)
  5. Have a résumé that that shows how strategic you are. (It is documented and ready in the event you need it.)