IBM did serve up some meat with their marketing sizzle, however. In the last section, Excelling in your mandate, I was finally rewarded for my slog through obviousville. Beginning on page 63, IBM delivers. They challenge CIOs to lead. And not just lead IT, but lead the business.
Hurray for IBM!
Having earned their trusted spot in the C-suite, CIOs are poised to help lead even more than before. To be transformative in supporting their own mandates, each can benefit from the nuggets of truth shared by others. (Page 64.)
CIOs can support their own mandates?!? In other words, maybe, just maybe, CIOs could move from being just technology leaders to being business leaders? And maybe CIOs can educate other business leaders that the mandate theyve been forced into sells IT short?
Forget that I just wrote "just maybe," the answer is "Yes!" CIOs can be business leaders.
I dont understand why IBM wasted 62 pages telling us about all of these other mandates if, in the end, they actually desire and challenge CIOs to support their own mandates (scratch, scratch).
If you read only one page read page 65. Its where the meat and the sizzle come together.
IBM provides five actions to take to become a CIO of significance. (I've added my thoughts to each action. Bullet No. 4 is my favorite and needs to be the top priority for every CIO on the face of the earth ... regardless of the box that your company mandates you operate in!)
1. Collaborate beyond what is currently imagined - Be an enabler, innovator, collaborator, educator, initiator of discussing what's possible. But don't forget to also take action, to practice, prototype, play with these ideas.
2. Live simplification as a daily goal - Continually improve IT, business operations and your broader value chain. Seek to eliminate bureaucracy and inefficiencies wherever they rear their ugly, value-draining heads.
3. Embrace the power of analytics - What's your data telling your organization? What patterns exist in your unstructured data? Are you asking what knowledge, answers, ideas, solutions, revenue, profit are you leaving on the table? Do you have the team and tools to know?
4. Help grow profitability and seek new revenue - Become an entrepreneurial business leader. Develop the mindset that you exist to grow a business, not just select, implement and manage technology. This will require, though, that you build an IT organization that can execute without you.
5. Provide unparalleled IT expertise - I don't agree with IBM that the CIO should "become the ultimate expert at understanding and integrating the newest technologies," as they phrase it in the report. I do believe, however, that the CIO is responsible for building and leading an IT organization that can achieve this mission. A CIO will fail if they stay involved in IT operations and also try to become a business leader. They will be stretched to these extremes and then break like a rubber band.
So, in summary,:
And, finally, here is my own personal mandate for CIOs:
John D. Hughes is founder of GrowthWave, an interim CIO/CEO advisory firm in Seattle and author of the recently released leadership fable, Haunting the CEO: A tale of true leadership in an era of IT failure. John can be reached at email@example.com.