Here is, below, some thoughts I exchanged with a consultant in the Paris metro, regarding CIO life. Does it match your knowings ?

Once you have stepped in as CIO, you are facing quickly to a lot of operational concerns which usually are managed by crisis meetings. Your people expect from you to take the harsh decisions they have not been able to take and they think they need, to be backed in their day to day work. You are trying a say about strategy, everybody hears you politely, but they all seem to think : “hey, guy shed your illusions ! Here, you will deal with the hard. only if such a thought may support the budget, it is worth to have”. Your team is expecting a change but nobody believe it is still possible.

You are an experienced manager : when you made your assessment, you discovered that your predecessor did wrongly and rose significantly IT risk level. Then, you get enough resources to secure your first year achievement without undertaking too much changes. After the second year, it appears quickly that change is not so easy to make, and you not fully meet your engagements. Either your CEO is disappointed and you have to change job or, other managers appreciate that you don’t try to change too much, because it may hamper their own changes, so your CEO thinks you have done a tough job in front of adversity. You have started for a new year !

What about your team, meanwhile ? They keep doing brilliantly the operations but with great efforts. You have to negotiate each little change with them, you could not afford a slump in users satisfaction.

Because your are experienced, you ask to an IT consultancy to help your team to find transformations opportunities to make their job easier. All is tried, portfolio management, enterprise architecture, new technologies. But you are not keen to support consultancy recommendations too much because, overall, you want to keep good relationships with your team. All remain more or less in a slideware state.

Your team knows so perfectly company applications that it is very hard to be replaced without impact on the dear user satisfaction. And they don’t see why to change because they are definitely the best.

Then, you change your mind. You set an assistant next to each manager. But everybody find one just for front, and not really able to take on the job.

At last, you adopt a tactical attitude, trying to find the future managers among your people, negotiating harshly for changes. Sometimes you see an opening, and you launch a reengineering. Ouf ! May it help to solve your questions ? Not always, it needs to be successful, otherwise you may be in worse position. At least, you may find that you are playing the game …

Here is how the tough CIO life could be ! Here, no abbreviation like ERP, or SCM, and so … it is the job of the team. All lies in his capability of driving his team to the changes. According to me, it is better to take this way from the beginning instead of starting with securing his position. According to me again, the main capability lies in leadership, not in technical competence or in capability of designing good processes.

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