Sunday, February 25, 2007

Risk is Part of the Job

Is the CIO a manager or a leader? Remember, managers optimize existing processes, and leaders invent new ones. Seems like most think that CIO are mostly managers because they don't take risk. I'm not surprised; no CIO got fired for installing Oracle, or Microsoft, or SAP, or EMC. Projects using these technologies might fail, and fail horribly, but no heads will roll because they did the 'smart thing'. After all, everyone knows IT is a tough industry. And the fact of the matter is, with 80 percent of the typical IT budget going towards Opex, IT is a hardly a strategic endeavor. Why bother with leadership?

Well, the ironic thing is that most (non-CIO) people think that the CIO should be a leadership role - they have no guts, etc. The numbers are clear - about 40 percent of CIOs proclaim they are not innovative, one third think their shop is constrained, and a quarter are simply reactionary. If anything, this just reflects the environment they are working in; leadership is rarely rewarded except in the absolute top notch of companies. And since most CIOs do not work for top notch companies, they go along, get along, and get their 200K a year. It's a job.

There are a few good ideas for getting them out of this rut; Mine is of course to crunch the IT spending and get them involved in green projects. Vin thinks that CEOs should force them to spend 25 percent of their budget with vendors less than three years old. This is also a fine idea. Clearly, CIOs can't just keep repeating that they need to align IT and business goals, which is what they have said for the last 12 years. This mantra has nothing of the chopping block mentality that is so lacking, and the job is clearly more than just smooze and chat. How about make money, save money, and bring in business?

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