uGovernIT

A Practical Approach for IT Governance

The Six Stages of a CIO

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Background

Over the past several months, I have been researching how best to sell ourintegrated IT Governance solution to a CIO. Being a CIO myself, I realize it is not an easy task.  One of the studies I started was analyzing the different CIO archetypes.  We have seen many theories on the different CIO archetypes.  CIO Executive Council indicates that the CIO role is made up of 3 CIO archetypes, specifically; 1) Operational/Functional (Business relationship: Service provider; 2) Transformational (Business relationship: Partner); and 3) Business Strategist (Business relationship: Peer).  Earlier this year, I felt we needed a more contemporary taxonomy for classifying CIOs. The taxonomy I proposed was on the background where the CIOs come from.

Imagine a three dimensional grid with one axis being business background, the other being technology background, and the third being the leadership skills. Since it is difficult to show a three dimensional grid in a blog, I developed two 2×2 grids. The two grids are separated by leadership skills – those who have it and those who do not. This framework helped me define our market.  Our target was CIOs who exhibit leadership skills to run IT like a business. They feel that their role is no different than that of a CEO of a IT company.

CIOs Based on Age

One of my colleagues asked me why I had not considered the “age factor”.   My first reaction was that age will be an absolutely weak differentiator.  Besides, you cannot discriminate based on age.  So why even look at this analysis.  Strangely enough, if you look at HR consultants they discuss why it is important to understand the various age groups and develop an organization culture that meets the needs of the different segments.  From purely a sociological perspective, I started wondering if these age based segments have any relevance in developing the CIO Archetypes.    I used the common accepted terms for identifying different age groups.  The one from Bank of America was simple and elegant.  They used six age groups: Late Millennials, Millennials, Generation X, Late Boomers, Baby Boomers and the Senior Set.  I looked around my network to see if I knew CIOs in the various age groups.  I have a network of several hundred CIOs, and over the years, I have developed a friendship with them. I found them in all age groups but one – I knew of none under 25.  For the rest of the groups, I asked what was the dominant characteristic of the CIO.  I tried the two frameworks identified in the previous section.  All age groups had overlaps and there was no clear differentiator.  When existing frameworks failed to deliver any meaningful results, a new idea emerged.  I focussed on what would be the focus if I were in the respective age groups.

If I were to be a Late Millennial (under 25), I may be focused on learning the role.  If I were a Millennial and had the CIO title, it is likely I would be in a small to mid sized firm with an eye for growth.  If I were a Gen X, then I likely would be trying to move ahead by leaping firms and gaining expertise in different verticals.  If I were a Late Boomer, I may be peaking in my job, gaining business acumen and maturing as a CIO.  If I were a Baby Boomer, I would probably be feeling that I have learnt all that is there to learn (personally speaking, learning never stops)and my focus may have shifted to stabilizing my job.  If I have climbed the hill and entered the Senior Set, I may be shifting to sharing and coaching. The good news is that there is a role for the CIO to play independent of the vintage!

Written by Subbu Murthy

October 11, 2015 at 1:45 pm

One Response

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  1. […] two previous blog posts, we discussed the career of the CIO: “The  Six Stages of the CIO“,  I had suggested a six stage process:  Learn, Grow, Leap, Mature, Become Stable, and […]


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