A general does not fight a war alone.  A coach cannot win a game on his own.  And without the dedicated efforts of the IT team, a CIO will fail.

You can establish a terrific vision and direction, but if your team refuses to follow, it is for naught.  You can come up with the best strategy in the world, but if your team cannot execute, what have you gained?  You can talk about the need to be more innovative, but if your team is not engaged, that likely won’t happen. team

“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” —John Maxwell

Leading the IT department is not something you can totally delegate to your IT leadership team.  Yes, these managers are a key element in the ongoing success of the department and the company.  They need your coaching and mentorship (see How Are You Developing IT Bench Strength?).  The relationship that each of your managers has with their individual team members is important to the morale and well-being of the department.  But that cannot substitute for the relationship a CIO should build with each individual in the IT department.

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” —Max DePree

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Your future is created by what you do todayYou hear it in the press, from the  industry experts, and perhaps even from your own C-suite — the siren call to transform IT.
You know changes are needed – maybe even radical ones – to ensure future business success.  But the realities of today’s business are at the same time both demanding and limiting.

How can you begin making noticeable progress on the transformation that you know is needed for future success?

This article was written as a guest post on Martha Heller’s blog.  Martha is President of Heller Search Associates, Contributing Editor of CIO Magazine, and former Founder and Managing Director of CIO Executive Council.

Click here to read the entire article.


More than 60% of CEOs will hire their next CIO from outside the company, according to a 2013 Gartner survey.  Is that any reflection on you as the current CIO?  What are you doing to develop a great leadership team?Building Bench Strength

The intent to hire the next CIO externally could simply mean that the CEO has a “grass is greener on the other side” mentality.  It might mean that you have inadequately developed the talents of your subordinates, or it could imply that you haven’t yet given them enough PR within the upper echelon of the company.  Or possibly your department simply doesn’t have anyone capable of taking the reins anytime soon and an infusion of additional talent might be needed.  Perhaps, though, it indicates that the CEO isn’t totally satisfied with the current direction and performance of IT. Read the rest of this entry »


Corporate boards are more concerned than ever about technology and its effects on the company.

They hear the horror stories of millions of dollars sunk into technology projects that fail to meet their goals.  They see how one dissatisfied customer can use technology-enabled social media to ignite public outrage against a company. boardroom

They read about website failures during critical times and understand the potential for both short-term and long-term consequences.  They may have even themselves endured fallout from a computer virus.  They see the adverse effect a cyber-attack can have on a company in terms of bad press, lost revenue, legal woes, and erosion of customer trust.  They hear of companies failing because of inadequate preparation for continuation when a disaster occurred.

They fear rival companies gaining a competitive advantage through some technological investment.  They see whole industries disrupted as a result of new technologies.  They know of companies no longer in existence because they failed to react to technological changes.

And they see – and feel – that the pace of technological change and its effect on business is rapidly increasing.

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There has never been a stronger need for a solid relationship between the CEO and CIO.  Rapid technology advances are causing changes in societal behavior which in turn are having a profound effect on business.  Social and mobile technologies have given new power to the customer to compare products, solicit/discover third-party product recommendations, publicly voice their support or displeasure, and buy from anywhere.  This has ushered in the ‘Age of the Customer’ which Forrester defines as a “20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers” (Technology Management in the Age of the Customer). Connecting

Technology is also enabling disruption of entire industries.  Think about the effect, for example, that Amazon has had on retail brick & mortar booksellers.  In fact, an IBM study found that 41% of CEOs expect increased competition from companies outside their industry in the near future (The Customer Activated Enterprise).  They also recognize that companies within their industry are using big data/analytics to improve their decision-making and more precisely target customers.  CEOs are placing a priority on shaking up the status quo in their organization.  There is a sense of urgency and a push for innovation, and technology is obviously a major part of the solution.

But in too many companies, there is a disconnect between the CEO and the CIO.  Jim Stikeleather writes in a Harvard Business Review blog about a research study on the changing role of the CIO and IT (The IT Conversation We Should Be Having).  In short, the study found that CEOs believe that CIOs are not in sync with the new issues CEOs are facing.  In addition, CEOs feel that CIOs do not understand where the business needs to go and do not have a strategy truly supportive of the business.  More specifically, almost half of CEOs feel IT should be a commodity service purchased as needed and do not feel that their CIO understands the business nor how to apply IT in new ways to the business.  Moreover, a KPMG survey found that only 5% of executives feel that their business and IT strategies are 100% aligned (Executives See Disconnect Between Strategy and Technology Within Their Organizations).  Given this, is there any wonder at the call for the elimination of the Chief Information Officer position and/or the addition of other C-level positions like the Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Data Officer, or Chief Digital Officer? (Will CDO Steal CIO’s Leadership Role?)  Yet I can’t help but feel that the major issue here is that too many CIOs have not truly gotten involved in the business and have not worked to develop a solid relationship with the CEO and other C-suite executives.

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