"Think Like a GM." Career Advice from Motorola Solutions CIO, Leslie Jones
Always Think Like a General Manager
I have two pieces of advice for future CIOs. First, always think like a general manager, not like a CIO. If you think like a GM, you will avoid becoming too fascinated with technology for technology’s sake or investing the company’s dollars in nothing but technology projects.
Ask yourself, "Does this technology advance my business goals, yes or no? Is this money better spent in IT or someplace else? If we have X millions of dollars to spend, should we fund another IT program or are we better off strengthening the marketing group in Asia?"
It goes back to my mantra, “We are in the business. Our field just happens to be IT.”
Failure Won't Kill You
The second piece of career advice is something that I learned during my previous career in academics, just before I was getting ready to take my doctoral exams. I was having lunch with my advisor and I was a little nervous. He asked me what was wrong and I said, “What happens if I fail my orals?” And he looked at me and said, “Would you kill yourself?” And I said, “Well, no. I guess I’d go home and have a stiff drink and start studying again.” And he said, “Well, there you are.”
This was an absolutely eye opening experience for me. If you fail at something in business, is it life threatening? No. Will it disappoint you? Sure. But it’s not going to kill you. So, go for broke, because nobody learns from success. And the truth is, if you never fail, you’re not stretching yourself enough. If you go into every decision with the assumption that failure will not kill you, you will embrace more radical solutions than if you were concerned about safety nets. You will stretch yourself and your organization further than you ever thought possible.
-- Leslie Jones, CIO of Motorola Solutions