Marcia Nizzari, director of informatics at Good Start Genetics Inc. in Boston, compares becoming a CIO to the school of hard knocks: When it comes to technology leadership training, CIO newbies are pretty much on their own.
What she has seen in her technology career, and now as a teacher of a course on enterprise architecture at Boston University, is that there’s no real-world training for young people who have been promoted to the CIO position.
“It is a lonely place to be for many of these new CIOs,” she said. “There’s really no one to ask about vendor due diligence, building enterprise architecture, how to talk to the business so a project makes sense and finances it, or how to hire and bring the correct team together.”
In her class Nizzari uses exercises from the book Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill and David Robertson. But much of the course consists of students sharing experiences and asking each other questions, and visiting speakers who talk about the invaluable on-the-job, albeit sometimes painful, lessons they’ve learned.
Rather than on IT, a focus of the technology leadership training course is on making an enterprise architecture diagram in business terms — and better yet, ways to get the CEO to take ownership of it and promote that design as his or her own.
One thing is clear from Nizzari’s training course and others being offered by the Society for Information Management and the startup Global Institute for IT Management, as we wrote about recently on SearchCIO.com: The technology leaders of the future are more focused on business strategy and goals than on technology, which is just a means to achieving those goals.
Still, I’d like to hear from up-and-coming CIOs and seasoned ones alike. Were you a student at the school of hard knocks? And what lesson would you share with your peers? Email me, Christina Torode.