So you want to be a CIO? Stop trying to be a chess master and start enabling other people to grow, says John Marcante.
CIOs are finally getting some respect
Amid all of the pressure on CIOs to innovate while keeping the lights on and fostering better communications and aligning with the business comes some good news: CIO tenure is on the rise.
That’s an observation from Peter High, president of Metis Strategy, a Washington, D.C.-based boutique strategy and management consulting firm, who I spoke with recently. Anecdotal information High has gotten from friends at major executive recruiting firms suggests tenure for CIOs is climbing above four years. High attributes this to the fact that the CIO role is as complex as any role in the corporate hierarchy, and recognition that a longer-term perspective is needed.
Finally! Switching out players used to be easy to do, he maintains, because the rest of the organization didn’t understand what the CIO did. “That’s partially the CIO’s fault, because they used different language and different metrics to measure the performance of IT, creating a virtual black box around the department from the perspective of the rest of the organization.”
Today, however, high turnover would have disastrous consequences, says High, likening the scenario to switching coaches in the NFL.
“The more change is enacted, the more new methods and processes the IT team needs to learn. Each new learning curve means that the path to success is elongated.”
Plus, there are a lot of advantages to continuity for the rest of the executive team. Fostering relationships with the CIO can actually make them more successful, High says, because that gives business leaders greater transparency into the corporate plans that IT brings to life.
“There is a growing number of CIOs who have been in place for double the average tenure or more, and the advantage they have is people, processes and technology that reflect the longer-term perspective rather than short-term fixes.
They tend to have lower costs IT solutions, and more agile operations.” If a CIO’s perspective is that they may not be here in couple of years and they have to rapidly reduce costs, “that means using a machete where a scalpel may be more effective.”
It makes perfect sense when High says it behooves organizations to find individuals who will be with the organization for many years “so a complex set of capabilities are managed well.”
It’s heartening to hear that a growing number of businesses are realizing this.