The New CIO?

Humility as a primary trait

I remember the passion in his voice and the sheer determination in his eyes. He said, “I will never hire a CIO again”. Here the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation was abandoning the IT leadership classical model. Instead, he hired someone from the business, that currently served as an EVP of the “customer engagement” team. The results, quite simply, were staggering. Profitability – up. Revenue – up. Feature and function release to production – up. Number of defects – down. Enabling innovation introduced to production – up. Everything was looking great for this already successful company. Was it just the wrong CIO? One could argue that. Was this EVP simply a star in disguise? One could argue that as well. But this CEO, having hired multiple CIOs over the past decade was determined that “maybe” would not see the light of day. He wanted to be clear – the sole culprit of “what was holding our company back” was the ego of the “Vice President of No“. And that has stuck with me every since.

So here I sat, years later. And now another CEO was asking me: “what is the number one thing I should look for in a CIO”? She had just accepted the resignation of her CIO and was looking to replace her. My response was absolute as I felt it true, deep down in my soul. Humility. With an expected look of confusion sweeping across her face I began to tell her the story above with a particular focus on the results. Business results matter. They are the only thing that really matter.

So if you have an IT team that “authored the requirements themselves because the business …”, the good news is that there are requirements. The bad news is only ego makes an IT department think they know more than the business. If you have a thousand reasons surrounding “security risk” and “costs” and “scalability”, authored by your IT team, and keeping you from going to the cloud, the good news is you are facing a problem well discussed and the answer as simple and as straight-forward as any business challenge you will face this year. If your IT team “approves and denies all business request for technology solutions” the good news is your business is trying to advanced the company forward. The bad news is, well, let’s just say the throne and scepter was removed from the company mentioned above and the business flourished.

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