This is the last of three blog entries regarding the future of the CIO. These are based on a discussion with a dozen CIOs at the recent Gartner CIO Leadership Forum. Those discussions recognized that much has changed for CIOs and IT in the past 10 years. That is good news, as change requires adjustment and updating the CIOs view of themselves and they stories or myths others hold about them.
The new myth of the CIO is forming by the actions and practices of leaders in the field today. While existing myths of the CIO such as their being technologists who are less concerned about businesses and more concerned about budgets are giving way to multiple myths. Why are there multiple myths? Because the CIO role has become diverse as the impact of technology has increased and the skills of the CIO as business and IT leader.
Capturing that sophistication became a challenge, as the number of valid combinations is significant. Then the team hit on an idea from their childhood – Colorforms ™. You may remember them as a toy when you were a child, pieces of vinyl and a vinyal background to put them on. You combined the vinyl forms onto the background to create new pictures. In a funny way it was an early version component graphic based architectures!
At the Gartner Leadership Forum we asked CIOs to define the new myth related to the CIO in two ways. First we asked them to describe the various roles the CIO plays and then we asked them to describe an analogy for the new CIO. Using the Colorforms analogy, the CIOs identified a number of responsibilities, tools and resources at their disposal. That list includes:
CLEAR MIND – to listen to others with understanding
CLEAR VOICE -to communicate the course of action and vision
TELESCOPE – long-term vision to position the company for future success
LIGHT BULB – the innovation to create new combinations and new ideas
EYEGLASSES – the ability to see reality clearly at the enterprise and detail level
BUSINESS SUIT - reflecting the role of the CIO as the business leader of technology.
SPORTS JERSEY – responding to the CIOs need to be a player/manager at times where their judgment and experience are needed.
REFEREE’S SHIRT - recognizing the CIO as the person in the middle often asked to rule on disputes within IT and between the business leaders and IT
WHISTLE – altering the enterprise to new technologies as well as warning them of danger
HEART – required to lead with emotional intelligence and empathy as people and the company needs to change
TOOL BELT - reflecting the multiple resources available ranging from business process, technology, communications and others.
PROCESS BELT – recognizing that the CIO leads through changing both business and IT processes
LASSO – to bring the IT organization and enterprise together even when it does not particularly want to come together.
MOBILE PHONE - staying connected to the business, IT organization and other service providers.
SWORD - defending the enterprise information, data and systems
The future myth of the CIO is complex, because their job is complex with no single pattern or rule. So CIOs are creating their own myths as they create their roles combining these tools into their job and career. The Colorforms are in the graphic below. Its time to write the new myth.