A Practical Approach for IT Governance

Archive for August 2014

What is the color of your CIO?

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Four Color CIOAt a firm where I serve as the Consultant CIO, I was having a chat with our HR Director on how to manage change when we implement a planned new ERP system (we are currently in the planning stages). She whipped out a framework she had used to profile many of the key personnel in the firm. Oranges are results driven and care for outcomes. The reds are visionaries who care about direction, the blues are process focused and rely on structure to deliver results, and the greens are people centric. This was very helpful for me to plan the change management process.

I started wondering what is my color? Clearly as a CIO, we probably have a mix of all colors. However, one or two may dominate our personalities. The key is not color but does our color combination match the needs of the Enterprise we are serving. For example, if the enterprise is lagging and technology is its only savior to become competitive, then perhaps a more reddish CIO (visionary) may be right for the Enterprise. For Enterprises lacking structure, a blue CIO (process centric) may be ideal. For Enterprises where the business objectives and IT objectives are well articulated, a orange CIO (results driven) may be appropriate, and where resources are very strong but need coaching and guidance, a greenish CIO (people-centric) may be more suited. We could go into combinations of these colors and how they fit different needs, however, that would be a Ph.D. type thesis. One Ph.D. is way too much for me. It is interesting that the color of the CIO is relevant to the Enterprise after all.

Written by Subbu Murthy

August 20, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Posted in IT Governance

Does the CTO report to the CIO?

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Most CIOs will juCIO Versus CTOmp at this and say “but of course”, except if you are a CIO in a technology centric company.  Let us turn to a trusted source – Wikipedia. They actually compare the roles of the CTO and the CIO:  

“The focus of a CTO may be contrasted with that of a Chief Information Officer (CIO). A CIO is likely to solve organizational problems through acquiring and adapting existing technologies (especially those of an IT nature), whereas a CTO principally oversees development of new technologies (of various types). Many large companies have both positions. Another major distinction is between technologies that a firm seeks to actually develop to commercialize itself vs. technologies that support or enable a firm to carry out its ongoing operations. A CTO is focused on technology integral to products being sold to customers or clients, while a CIO is a more internally oriented position focused on technology needed for running the company (and in IT fields, for maintaining foundational software platforms for any new applications). Accordingly, a CTO is more likely to be integrally involved with formulating intellectual property (IP) strategies and exploiting proprietary technologies. In an enterprise whose primary technology matters are addressable by ready-made technologies (which, by definition, is not the case for any companies whose very purpose is to develop new technologies), a CIO might be the primary officer overseeing technology issues at the executive level. In an enterprise whose primary technology concerns do involve developing (or marketing) new technologies, a CTO is more likely to be the primary representative of these concerns at the executive level.”  

In a company that I was advising, the CTO ran all of IT (performed the role of CTO plus CIO).  I emphasized the need for managing the business needs and implementing an IT Governance process.  He was blase about it – no surprise he reports to the CIO now.

So who reports to whom? My answer: Neither.  If the organization feels that it needs both a CIO and the CTO, then they should both report to the CEO.  I feel that both roles are only needed in technology centric organizations.  For example in our own firm, UGovernIT, we have the CTO responsible for the product line and the CIO for ensuring that the product use and that the features are consistent with Enterprise needs.  Both report to the CEO.  

Written by Subbu Murthy

August 6, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Breaking the Mould

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Breaking the Mould

Lance Mooneys CartoonI send a Newsletter to over 4000 CIOs, and the response I got on this was incredible. So I took the liberty of sharing this on my blog site as well.

 A LinkedIn connection shared this cartoon which reminded me how difficult it is for CIOs to change old habits. The famous cliche “You cannot get fired for choosing IBM” still holds true. However, it is unfair to blame it on only job preservation. CIOs tend to be risk averse as they see failure as a threat to their seat at the Executive Table. Vendors need to take some blame as well for bringing relatively immature products to the market adding to the risk of breaking the mould. How does the old-school CIO break the mould?

Curiously some of it happens just by chance. For example, many CIOs are asked to take on roles that they have never done before. I know several who are CIO/COO, CIO/CFO and even CIO/CMO. These lucky CIOs are forced to break the mould. If you were not amongst the fortunate to get such roles, you can still break away from the mould by fearlessly following your instincts and focusing on how to deliver value to the Enterprise.

If you want to break the mould but still feel your job as a CIO is not done, you can follow Steve Gallagher’s “The First 90 Days in a New CIO Position” posted in the Harvard Business Review Blog. In addition to getting the house in order and managing the culture shift towards innovation, Steve talks about building a technology enabled Strategic Vision.  

A footnote to the blog:  In the newsletter, I shared information on two CIOs who have broken the mould: Becky Wanta and Maria Fitzpatrick.  Both been outstanding CIOs and both have been exemplary for women to break the glass ceiling, both have a very illustrious consulting practice now, and most relevant to me, both have been a source of encouragement and support for me and my product uGovernIT.  Since it is impossible to summarize their achievements in this short Editorial section, I have provided links to their LinkedIn Profiles.

Written by Subbu Murthy

August 1, 2014 at 8:29 am