What Makes a Good CIO?

Put between fifty and one hundred CIOs in a room, put an agenda together on the latest topics, and let them speak about their wins, expertise, and losses. That's the basic format of today's CIO summit plus or minus the pitches, sponsored talks, or vendor booths.

T'is the season to attend a session and there are many to choose from. I myself only have time to attend a couple and you can learn quite a bit from these sessions.

Timely topics such as Cloud, Big Data and Innovation have different considerations depending on the nature of the business and the CIO. Some CIOs see the Cloud as an opportunity to move up the stack away from providing infrastructure services to getting to PaaS and SaaS solutions, while others are more fearful of the integration needed to support hybrid environments. Big Data might be the CIOs opportunity to plug their business into a data supply chains to better predict and optimize their networks while others see it as a beacon to make their organizations more data-driven. As for innovation, most CIOs attending these sessions acknowledge that one of their key roles is to bring innovative opportunities and solutions "to the table", yet few have thought through how to develop a sustainable practice with their business partners.

When you see a number of CIOs together, a number of characteristics stick out as key to successful CIOs
  • They are good listeners and capable of picking up needs, requirements, and changes through their business relationships.
  • They have a sense of roadmap - where they've been, how they're going to achieve their short term priorities, and roughly what direction they are heading. They are often skilled, but not necessarily trained at enterprise architecture.
  • The better CIOs can engage, speak in front of a crowd, and translate complex subjects into simple to understand topics and messages.  
  • CIOs who "talk innovation" do so with exampled accomplishments versus others who talk definition or process.
  • They are change agents and invest in talent development and agile practices to ensure their teams can adjust to changes in demand, priorities, or strategy.
While not a comprehensive list, this is what stands out in a room of CIOs. What else stands out? CIOs talking infrastructure first, others expressing risks before thinking through opportunities and solutions, and those selling the virtue of technology without sharing business applications. As the executive coaches will tell you, that's not a good place to be.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:55 PM

    You may want to add business acumen to your list.


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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.