Advice for First Time CIOs

I discussed in a previous post, 100 Days – A Secret IT Guide, steps that an IT executive should do during their first 100 days on the job.

Here is some more advice for first time CIOs and CTOs that helped me when I started.

1. Promote Yourself. Stop thinking about your old job and move on. You got the job now is the time to perform. Remember you have no reputation in the beginning. So now is the time to show them why they hired you. Prepare to take charge in your new role immediately and prioritize any of your vulnerabilities so that you can build a team that can help you overcome these vulnerabilities asap.

2. Build Your Team. Either inherit the team and change it or build a new team from scratch. Put in place processes that will allow the team to work together. I am strong believer in revamping existing teams. Moving people around, removing silos and building new. Your team will go through culture shock. Be prepared for grumblings. The end result will be worth it. The team structure will be stronger. Do not be afraid to deal with under-performers.

3. Put Together a Game Plan. Sit down with your team one on one with a list of questions that you have. Getting input from different levels helps you learn quickly. Also, sit down with your CEO and other lines of business and ask questions. It is best to get their input.

4. Secure Early Wins. Set priorities and build personal credibility by securing early wins. This will set your reputation as a performer and someone that can accomplish tasks. Also, you must create a compelling vision that is easily communicated.

5. Meet Everyone. Building a productive working relationship with the business is essential and where many CIOs fail. Start Day One! Get out from behind your desk and meet everyone. People will appreciate your efforts.

6. Build Coalitions. You can’t get things done by authority alone. You might have the title but not the reputation to get things done. You need to understand where the informal power resides and build coalitions with these people in order to get your agenda accomplished. (Read my post: The Clique: As CIO Are You Part of It?)

7. Stay Focused. When taking over, everything will need to be completed today, it is important to take time to make sure you are focused on the right objectives and goals. Constantly do a self-appraisal (Read my post: Self-Appraisal: Keeping Your Career Focused) of yourself. In addition, find people in your network that you can turn to outside of the company for advice and counsel.

8. Assess the Culture. To be a successful CIO you must assess and analyze a company’s existing culture. Then you must reinforce elements of that culture. (Read my post: Culture – CIO to CIO)

Being a new CIO is a great achievement. If you take the time to understand your career you can be a good CIO and a great leader. Enjoy your new role and good luck…

100 Days – A Secret IT Guide

This week President Obama reached 100 days since he took office. While many political pundits consider this milestone antiquated it is an important metric which all executives especially IT executives should use to gauge their performance.

What should a new IT executive have done in his/her first 100 days?

1. Listen to what the business is telling you. Spend time with business leaders and just listen to them. It is important to understand the business process and the players involved. Yes, politics will be important.

2. Meet with your staff and business leaders regularly. Get to know them. Their strengths and weaknesses.

3. Repair broken relationships quickly especially if they are business relationships.

4. Speak in business terms and stay away from the latest tech buzz words.

5. Assess IT’s capabilities. Are they in line with business goals? If not, what needs to be done to get it in line?

6. Freeze projects when appropriate until you can get up-to-speed. Put together a hit list of projects that have gone off track with a cost/benefit analysis.

7. Stabilize operations and get your processes to a minimum level that is acceptable and manageable.

8. Articulate IT’s goals and objectives. Develop a mission statement and business plan.