Breaking the CIO Paradox: Excerpt from my forthcoming book
[To follow is an unedited excerpt from my forthcoming book, The CIO Paradox: Battling the Contradictions of IT Leadership. The book will be published in fall 2012 by Bibliomotion. You can reserve a copy now on amazon.com].
If I know one thing about sports (and to be clear, that is all I know, just one thing), it is that Michael Jordan is a great basketball player. Well, he “was” a great basketball player, if my husband, Tony, is correct when he tells me that Jordan no longer plays. (Tony also tells me that my Michael Jordan references are very “legacy,” and that if I want to participate in the long-established tradition of applying sports to business, I am in need of an upgrade.)
Never the less, I do know that Michael Jordan could play basketball. Why? What made him such a great player? Did he work hard to be the best despite second billing in high school and college? Did he learn the dynamics of what makes a basketball team perform? Did he work tirelessly to improve his natural abilities? Yes, yes and yes (if what I read on the back of his biography is accurate). But the undeniable truth is that Michael Jordan started with something innate and natural. He had good DNA to work with.
When I compare a CIO who is buckling under the CIO paradox to one who has mastered it, I think of Michael Jordan. Some IT leaders just have it, and some don’t. Some CIOs don’t need to think hard about how to establish credibility; they show up with it. Some CIOs don’t read books about how to communicate in business terms. They just do it. Some CIOs avoid conference presentations on “Getting a Seat at the Table” and “Demonstrating the Value of IT.” They already have it covered. These IT leaders have broken the CIO Paradox: they have found a way to manage the contradictions of IT leadership, not be defeated by them.
In doing research for this book, I found that there were themes that ran through most of my interviews with CIOs who have broken the paradox. There are certain approaches, practices and philosophies that these CIOs seem to have in common. The themes were strong enough that I thought it worthwhile to collect and describe them in this concluding chapter.
Just as basketball players who want to improve their game will learn something from hearing Michael Jordan speak, it is my hope that CIOs will glean direction, inspiration and a few good ideas from this Breaking the Paradox check list. Some of the items below, like leadership and communication, appear on every “CIO Critical Competencies” list, and others, like “The Chameleon Factor” are new. Either way, they come from CIOs who have spent years thinking hard about how to lead IT. If you can check the box next to every item, chances are, you have broken the CIO paradox and are destined for even greater challenges.
Reserve a copy of The CIO Paradox on Amazon.com