Mr. CIO Meets the Interns

My company has started a new program to get our interns oriented to process and provide relevant information about various departments. It is called “Jumpstart”.  The goal is to give all our interns a flavor and/or in depth knowledge of various “things” they should know to work effectively. Most firms just throw their interns into the deep end and have them either sink or swim. We are taking the more humane approach in our internship program.

So I was asked to present about what is IT, what we do and some high level overviews of some critical apps. It has been some time since I present such information. Like most CIOs, I usually present to boards and execs, information with a lot more detail, ROIs, KPIs, budget projections, and a bunch of stuff that can make the average person fall asleep. It has been a very long since I was intern, so I had to spend some time thinking back to when I was one what did I want to know?

It was hard. So I created a fluff 40 slide PowerPoint that showcased the MIS department and the critical processes and applications I think any intern should know. I was shocked. It worked out well–very well. I had engaged my audience of 20 somethings by keeping it light and funny or as funny as technology can be.

Something else had occurred that I was not expecting. They started asking questions about why we do certain things and it turned into a brainstorming class as they began to think outside the box on how to improve the organization. Some of their ideas, I must admit, were out there, but I saw the future benefits.

The lesson I learned was to not write off the interns. In fact, as CIOs we should listen to them. They have not been tainted by corporate politics or turned into status quo zombies. They might have fresh ideas that can improve the bottom line of an organization. Think Facebook…

CIO Blogs for July 2011

CIO BlogsReinvent Your Training Methods by Chris Curran

Available does not equal best by Eric D. Brown

Transitioning IT from a technical focus to a business focus by IT BS Watch

How to Kill Projects and Develop Agile Programs Part 1 by Isaac Sacolick

Free Answers From Google On How CIOs Can Be Better Managers  by Jim Anderson

Aspiring To Be More…

I have a recent master’s graduate on my team who is aspiring to be more. His goal to eventually manage various IT projects outside his core competency which is development. He came to me the other day asking about how he can do more. I gave him the following advice to help him along.

1- Speak Well
The ability to speak to a wide variety of people is essential. Good eye contact, a varied vocabulary and the ability to tailor your language to suit your audience are essential. Practice talking with anyone and everyone you. Being more adept in social situations and being better equipped to network successfully will help you forge working relationships.

2- Confidence
Indecision–I hate it and I hate seeing it especially in the workplace. A good leader is decisive. If you are paralyzed by the fear of getting it wrong, you will end up doing nothing, which is worse than trying something and failing. Learn to evaluate different decisions for their pros and cons, and make decisions that will take you closer to completing a given task. The key is to make sure that your decisions are thought out and reasoned. Be confident in your judgment and believe in yourself to get things right.

3- Accept Responsibility
Accept responsibility, both for successes and failures. If you want other people to respect you, acknowledge your errors rather than trying to blame someone else. Everyone makes mistakes, but the real test is how you react to that. Being able to admit you have made a mistake is a sign of humility.

4- Be Positive
Be positive about work and life. A positive attitude is entirely self-determined and can be helped by accentuating the positives in any situation. Don’t see problems; see solutions.

Learn how to present yourself to others. I cannot say enough about grooming. Take pride in your appearance. The way you look enhances the way you feel about yourself, making you more confident.

6- Be Organize
Learn to track projects, meet deadlines, and set schedules. Ideally, you will reach a stage when you can get ahead of the curve and start taking on additional projects and responsibilities.



CIO Blogs for January 2011

Better Communication: Technology Isn’t Always The Best Solution by Mike SchaffnerCIO Blogs

CIO as General Manager? by Mark Brewer

Can a CIO be successful without IT experience? Define your terms! by Peter Kretzman

Four Models for success for the CTO / CIO- CTOVision by Eric Brown

Why CIOs Need Management Power Maps To Get Anything Done by Jim Anderson

How To Cope When The Boss Is A Bully by Andy Blumenthal

IT Staff to End User Ratio

Is there a rule of thumb for the number of IT staff to the number of end users? No.

No two companies are the same. If that were the case there would be a hard and fast rule we all would follow.  So comparing the ratios of man to machine will not determine the correct ratio. IT staffing ratios might come into play in larger companies. Efficiencies of scale coupled with segregation of job responsibilities allow larger companies to trend those ratios to some pretty high numbers. But even in these cases I would be cautious.

Take a step back and ask the following questions:

  • How many systems do you need to manage?
  • How many customized systems do you need to manage?
  • Is your business complex?
  • What is the geographic structure of your business and locations?
  • Do you have a standard operating environment in place?
  • What is the level of your infrastructure (laptops/ pcs/ servers/ printers/ backuptools, connectivity ) etc?
  • What is management’s approach, how much support do they want and in what time frame?
  • How many help desk calls are you receiving?
  • Are the help desk calls emergencies, regular maintenance, user errors?
  • Are help desk calls occurring 24×7?
  • Is there adequate backup to the handle workload when staff are sick, on vacation, etc?

Your answers above will determine the adequate number of IT staff to support your business environment.

Management Lessons from the Japanese

Having spent many years in a Japanese bank, these 2 articles hit home regarding what we, as executives,  can learn from the Japanese business culture.

6 Lessons From Japanese Business Culture by Roberto Rocha

7 Lessons From Japanese Business Culture – Part II by Samuel Hui

CIO Blogs from August 2010

Becoming a CIO – Current Thinking for IT Leaders by Scott Booher   CIO Blogs

Countering a disturbing bandwagon: rich vs. poor IT organizations by Peter Kretzman

The diminishing role of IT and the CIO(?) by Eric D. Brown

Strategic or Operational, the choice is yours! by Oh I See (CIO Inverted)

Tactical Plan – As CIO Do You Have One?

Having a game plan when entering any organization will help you quickly improve productivity and show strategic value. You will be able to focus more on core business issues, rather than operational disruptions.

Here are 6 items that should be include in any CIO tactical plan:

  1. Assess – Assess your company’s current IT architecture to determine its state as-is. Familiarize yourself with the existing environment to understand the current issues and architecture.
  2. Locate – Locate where the problems are, understand the issues, and if something is broken identify solutions.
  3. Determine – Determine current and future business requirements for the IT organization. Understand expectations. Expectations will be driven by your company’s corporate goals and visions. Know what the priorities are.
  4. Evaluate – Evaluate the possibilities for the target environment, based on your company’s business objectives and needs. The initial analysis should be broad and unconstrained; the goal is to define a long-range plan that will be constrained.
  5. Analyze – Conduct an analysis of the gap between the current state and future state to determine the optimal future environment.
  6. Present – Present your management team with alternative approaches for transforming the IT environment. These alternatives must be stated in business terms and specify the ways in which they will enable the company to accomplish its goals, such as increasing revenue, improving productivity, or improving customer satisfaction.

ReBoot – “Please no shoes…”

A CIO's VoiceMy wife and I do not have a strict “no shoe” policy in our home when it comes to our guests. Growing up it was just common courtesy to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home. It was especially important when entering Asian homes. It was a sign of respect.

Besides, have you ever noticed where you step and how at times you cannot help what you step in? Think about it some time. Maybe I am a germaphobe but I don’t want that stuff tracked through my home. No matter how hard you wipe your shoes before entering there will always be residual crud at the bottom of your shoes. My hardwood floors were expensive and I don’t want them scratch or scuffed by your Jimmy Choos or Aldos.

So please remove your shoes when entering my home and for that matter anyone else’s home as well.

What’s your policy? Let’s us know?

7 Things Leaders Can Learn From Super Bowl XLIV

I am not a big Colts or Saints fan. I am a New Yorker after all. However, I secretly rooted for the Saints to win since they were clearly the underdog and the city of New Orleans needed a win. Drew Brees worked his magic and the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV.

I always found the Super Bowl to be a slight let down when it comes to the game-two great teams on the field, but only playing conservatively. There are no chances, no risks being taken. What fun is that? I would think that in the last (and most important game) there is “no-holds-barred” attitude and the playbook is thrown out the window.

This was the game big chances were taken.  Drew Brees said, “That’s the type of team we are. We play with a very aggressive mentality. We play with a lot of confidence. We came to this game knowing we had to play loose and take a chance in order to win.”

As leaders, what can we learn for XLIV?

  • Calculated risks can pay off huge dividends.
  • If you have the attitude you are going to win, then chances are you are going to win.
  • Confidence is the key success.
  • Your team needs to share your vision.
  • There is a time and place to being aggressive.
  • There are no prizes for second place.
  • Victory is given to those that hunger for it.

Where Is The Loyalty?

Leadership is a two-way street, loyalty up and loyalty down. Respect for one’s superiors; care for one’s crew. -Grace Murray Hopper

Loyalty, allegiance, fidelity are words that all imply a sense of duty or devoted attachment to one’s country, creed, family, friends, etc. Are people still loyal today – especially in the workplace?

I have been speaking to several managers recently, and they all mentioned that there seems to be a sense of a lack of loyalty in today’s workplace. Why should there be one? Corporate America has changed and has really changed over the last year – massive layoffs, cutbacks, unemployment, etc., etc. The camaraderie of co-workers and the belief one’s work was making a difference in the organization has gone by the wayside.  People are working just to survive and are constantly worried about loosing their jobs. It becomes a stressful environment.

The question, “How do you build loyalty in today’s workplace?” The answer comes down to simple communication—both what you communicate and how you do it. Communicate in both directions, both up and down the chain of command — though it takes slightly different forms depending on which direction it’s focused. Communicate in real time, in person, and above all else be truthful.

In fact, the more you communicate with people, the more trusting and loyal they will be to you. Remember, your job as a manager is to ignite the passion of your staff. You cannot do that without communication.