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.

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.

5-Presentation
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.

 

 

Where Is Your Risk Assessment?

One of the few analyses that are overlooked in most IT departments is a comprehensive risk assessment.

A risk assessment should identify, analyze, and weigh all the potential risks, threats and hazards to a company’s internal and external business environment. 

The process of identifying risks/threats, probability of occurrence, the vulnerability to each risk/threat and the potential impact that could be caused, is necessary to prepare preventative measures and create recovery strategies.  Risk identification provides a number of other advantages to a company including: 

  • Exposes previously overlooked vulnerabilities that need to be addressed by plans and procedures
  • Identifies where preventative measures are lacking or need reevaluation
  • Can point out the importance of contingency planning to get staff and management on board
  • Will assist in documenting interdependencies and point out single points of failures

An effective risk management process is an important component of a company’s MIS department. The principal goal is to protect a company and its ability to perform its mission, not just its IT assets. Therefore, the risk management process should not be treated primarily as a technical function carried out by the IT, but as an essential management function of the organization.

Risk is the net negative impact of the exercise of vulnerability, considering both the probability and the impact of occurrence. Risk management is the process of identifying risk, assessing risk, and taking steps to reduce risk to an acceptable level. This assessment provides a foundation for the development of an effective risk management program, containing both the definitions and the practical guidance necessary for assessing and mitigating risks identified within IT systems. The ultimate goal is to help a company better manage IT-related mission risks.

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

Lessons That We Can Learn From the Army

I am somewhat of a military buff. Being a military brat I grew up around the military and have a deep and profound respect for the men and women that serve in our armed forces.

Patrick Hennessey writes a  great article in AskMen.com about 10 lessons the Army teaches us. Some of these lessons can be applied to everyday corporate life.

http://www.askmen.com/top_10/entertainment/top-10-army-lessons-that-all-men-can-learn-from_10.html

How to Climb the Corporate Ladder? My thought at least…

There is never one single thing you do to climb the corporate ladder. Everyone climbs the ropes at sometime throughout their careers.

1.  Have a good reputation: Reputation can make or break a career. Having one and others knowing it is a good first step to success.

2. Make big moves: There is nothing like a big move to get you noticed. You can climb up the ladder pretty quickly by doing something that will be noticed.

3.  Be a subject matter expert: Everyone always needs the advice of other people. Don’t be satisfied with being a regular executive, be the best in your field.

4. Take calculated risks: This can be a hit or miss, certain risks do pay off.

5. Be linked: The more people you know, the more people you have conversations with, the more you can open doors for yourself or others. Don’t just be a person who collects business cards, but be someone who talks to people with a hidden agenda and stays in touch. A rainmaker. Be a person who gets things done.