September 18, 2008  5:30 AM

A CIO syllabus for discovering your inner leader

Linda Tucci Linda Tucci Profile: Linda Tucci

From the folks at the Society for Information Management, here is the book list for the incoming 2009 class of the Regional Leadership Forum (RLF). The Regional Leadership Forum is a nine-month leadership program with a mission of training the “next generation of IT professionals to be IT Leaders” — with a capital L no less!

The required reading list (and one movie) is compiled by former Regional Leadership Forum participants, many of them now CIOs, with the aim of “promoting leadership development” among the incoming class, says Bob Rouse, RLF program director and professor of computer science at Washington University in St. Louis.

“The RLF book list provokes self-discovery and promotes the emergence of authentic leadership styles in our students,” Rouse said. “Each year, when tasked with developing this list, we search for books that will inspire, leading to the creation of a personal and unique management approach.”

Your leadership development may be fully formed by now, but it never hurts to be aware of what your peers consider seminal texts for being an effective CIO. And, you know, we may be in for tough times in the coming months. Hunkering down with a book by a writer above the fray of current events might offer some welcome and worthy escape. Let us know what you think of the list – and what on it you’ve read. Maybe we can start an online book club of IT pros and your humble online reporter.

For more on the Regional Leadership Forum program, now in its 15th year, see my interview with Rouse.

RLF 2009 Book List (Title, author)

•1.      How to Read a Book, Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

•2.      Brain Rules, John Medina

•3.      The Heart of Change, John P. Kotter and Dan S. Cohen

•4.      The Extreme Future, James Canton

•5.      First, Break all the Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

•6.      Leadership Passages, David L. Dotlich, James L. Noel and Norman Walker

•7.      Made to Stick, Chip Heath and Dan Heath

•8.      Leadership Is an Art, Max DePree

•9.      Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl

•10.   The Post American World, Fareed Zakaria

•11.   True North, Bill George

•12.   Gandhi (participants buy or rent this movie)

•13.   Working with Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman

•14.   The Theft of the Spirit, Carl Hammerschlag

•15.   The Nibble Theory and the Kernal of Power, Kaleel Jamison

•16.   Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick M. Lencioni

•17.   Improv Wisdom, Patricia Ryan Madson

•18.   The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli

•19.   Orbiting the Giant Hairball, Gordon Mackenzie

•20.   Managing Transitions, William Bridges

•21.   Creating the Good Life, James O’Toole and Walter Isaacson

•22.   Crucial Conversations, Kerry Patterson, Grenn Joseph, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

•23.   Leadership Moment, Michael Useem

•24.   The Zen of Listening, Rebecca Z. Shafir

•25.   Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership, Joseph Jaworski

•26.   A Leader’s Legacy, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Postner

•27.   Two Old Women, Velma Wallis

•28.   The Heart Aroused, David Whyte

•29.   The Penguin State of the World Atlas, Dan Smith

•30.   Speed Lead, Kevan Hall

•31.   The Pearl, John Steinbeck

September 16, 2008  7:34 PM

Sarah Palin as CEO? Fiorina thinks not

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

What’s more difficult: being the CEO of a large IT company, or serving as president of the United States?

Appearing on a KTRS Radio show in St. Louis Tuesday, Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO turned John McCain economic advisor, was asked whether Sarah Palin could run her old company, and she responded “no.” Cue the headlines: “PALIN COULDN’T RUN A MAJOR COMPANY.”

“But that’s not what she’s running for,” Fiorina quickly added. “Running a corporation is a different set of things.”

In a follow-up interview, Fiorina jammed her foot in deeper qualified her remarks. “I don’t think John McCain could run a major corporation, I don’t think Barack Obama could run a major corporation, I don’t think Joe Biden could run a major corporation.”

And deeper.

“But, on the other hand, a major corporation is not the same as being the president or the vice president of the United States. It is a fallacy to suggest that the country is like a company. So, of course, to run a business, you have to have a lifetime of experience in business, but that’s not what Sarah Palin, John McCain, Joe Biden, or Barack Obama are doing.”

Triggering this query from the Obama campaign: “If John McCain’s top economic advisor doesn’t think he can run a corporation, how on Earth can he run the largest economy in the world in the midst of a financial crisis?”

Personally, I find it arrogant (not to mention incredibly dumb) to say that your candidate and his vice president couldn’t run a company when you’re asking people to vote with confidence that they can run an entire country. What was she thinking? Does she think being a CEO is more difficult than being president of the United States? Are different skills sets required for running a country and running a multibillion-dollar corporation?

I don’t have it out for Fiorina. I just think someone who was fired after a highly visible merger went sour, stock prices plummeted and thousands of employees were laid off should think twice making comments about who would and wouldn’t be qualified to run her former company — or the country. I personally don’t want John McCain or Sarah Palin trying to run a company — or our country — either, but Fiorina’s comments are like the kettle calling the pot black.

And, on that note, I wonder if Fiorina is the one behind McCain’s recent assertion that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times.”

Yeah, tell it to Wall Street.

September 15, 2008  10:17 AM

CIO weekly wrap-up

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

For those playing catch-up, here’s what we produced on last week:

  • IT services spending nicked, but not axed — A second-quarter report from Forrester Research shows that more than 40% of IT executives have already cut overall budgets this year and 24% have cut discretionary spending.

September 12, 2008  11:41 AM

What did you think of our salary and careers report?

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

In case you missed it, launched its Salary and Careers Special Report last week, and we’ve noticed that there have been a lot of visitors to our stories. So I’d like to provide a space here on the blog for people to sound off on the findings. Please chime in!

What did you think of the report as a whole? Did it cover the type of topics you’re interested in, such as telecommuting, job security and how to land the CIO job you want? What else would you have like to have seen? And please check out our charts — how does your salary, raise and bonus stack up against other CIOs and IT executives?

September 12, 2008  10:24 AM

Why Wall-E should matter to you

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

Who’s seen the movie Wall-E? You know, the tale of a loveable robot left behind on Earth to clean up humans’ messes while humans headed off on a cruise-style spaceship, gained a lot of weight, and forget how to communicate face-to-face?

Especially for a kids’ movie, Wall-E has a lot of satirical elements, but there is some truth in most of them – including the future-of-humanity example listed above. And poor Wall-E’s entire existence hinges upon tending to out-of-control human waste (Wall-E stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter, Earth-Class). And, considering how much time we spend at our jobs, a lot of that waste is workplace-generated.

If you haven’t had a chance to read my colleague Linda Tucci’s story on electronic waste, or e-waste, please take a few minutes to do so…it invokes Wall-E in a way that shows how frightening real that dystopian scenario could become if not for vigilance in proper disposal of computer equipment. The EPA estimates that 40 million computers became obsolete last year. Imagine how much that number will continue to grow. And imagine when you start throwing in cell phones and other mobile communications devices…and business-generated paper waste….

So, as a CIO, what are you doing to ensure that your organization is properly managing its waste, electronic and otherwise? And where should I be throwing away this plastic bottle, again?

September 5, 2008  4:57 PM

CIO weekly wrap-up

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

I refuse to believe that Labor Day marks the end of summer – the weather in New England is still too darn nice. It’s been a busy week for us here at, and here’s a round-up of what we’ve been working on.

  • Salary and Careers Special Report — Enterprise CIOs are still feeling secure in their jobs despite the faltering economy thanks to their contributions to organizational efficiencies. But that doesn’t mean CIOs are shying away from seeking new career opportunities or considering telecommuting if it would make their working lives better. Don’t miss our special report!
  • CIO Briefing on risk management for enterprise CIOs — Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) encompasses the methods by which organizations predict, identify and mitigate circumstances that could be detrimental to the enterprise. Using the case studies, news and trend articles in this month’s CIO Briefing, learn to recognize and proactively address risks in your organization.

September 5, 2008  12:03 PM

Think like a hacker (and other World of Warcraft-inspired musings)

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

Yesterday, I attended Forrester’s security forum in Boston. In one of the morning sessions, “Exploiting Online Games,” Gary McGraw, chief technology officer at Cigital (and co-author of a book by the same title) discussed how online gamers are contributing to a multi-billion-dollar industry.

Online games draw up to 900,000 simultaneous users at any given time, McGraw said. The ubiquitous World of Warcraft has 10 million subscribers. If 10 million users pay the $14 subscription fee each month for a year to play the game, you’re talking about $1.68 billion. Wow. I am definitely in the wrong industry.

(Side note: I don’t know much about World of Warcraft, outside an excellent, Emmy-winning “South Park” episode…no, really, you think I’m kidding but I’m not. Probably NSFW, but here are some clips if you want to check it out later on.)

So why was McGraw presenting at a security conference? Because, in online gaming, security problems are built right into a successful business model. Game makers want millions of people to be accessing and interacting within their site. But what if they’re handing that piece of Internet real estate over to unsavory folks who might cause damage with it? And how do organizations in a Web 2.0 world deal with similar challenges?

To bring his point home, McGraw talked about Dan Farmer, whose controversial Security Administrator Tool for Analyzing Networks (SATAN) program would, essentially, allow companies to hack their own systems to determine their vulnerabilities. But, upon its release in 1995, Farmer’s employer fired him, fearing that it would increase malicious hacks.

The irony, McGraw says, is that nowadays, an IT exec charged with minding security could possibly be fired for not attempting to “think like a hacker” and protect his system accordingly. While his presentation got into the legal and financial ramifications of gaming, I think that the most important message for network security administrators was “think like an attacker,” and do the proper code review and architectural risk analysis on the front end to prevent problems later on.

Has your company adopted a “think like a hacker” approach to IT security? Any success stories you would like to share? Or just general love for “World of Warcraft” so that I can better understand the online sensation?

September 5, 2008  10:51 AM

Google Chrome not so shiny?

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

I’ve yet to weigh in on Chrome, Google’s new web browser, largely because this has been a really busy post-Labor Day week and I haven’t yet had the chance to try it out myself. But I’ve been picking up snippets here and there and, for once, it sounds like Google might have botched a debut, at least according to online reporters and chatters.

I remember playing with Google Street Maps, Google Earth and Gmail not long after their debuts and being immediately impressed. And it sounds like Chrome’s sleek appearance, tabs and privacy settings (called “Incognito”) carry that same Google charm.

But I’m also hearing some Big Brother-ish features. For instance, Google has changed its End User Licensing Agreement, which originally called for the right to retain the rights to anything you do or create while using Chrome.

For a measured view, I’m turning to this list of reasons for and reasons against trying out Chrome.

Is this brouhaha a matter of people looking to take down Google-as-Goliath? Who else has tried out the beta version of Chrome? What are your initial impressions? Could it draw you away from Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or whatever other web browser you currently use?

September 2, 2008  5:13 PM

CIO leaders are born and made

Linda Tucci Linda Tucci Profile: Linda Tucci

Today, on we’re talking leadership with Bob Rouse, professor of computer science at Washington University in St.Louis and a program director the Regional Leadership Forum, a CIO training program launched 15 years ago by the Society for Information Management.

In a wide ranging discusssion, Bob gamely takes on some of  the big questions–are leaders born or made? Are the leadership qualities of the successful CIO different from those required of, say, the captain of a ship or the CFO? Do you have to be young to have this stuff stick? He also weighs in on why we shouldn’t be surprised by the gulf between IT and the business.

Some background:  The RFL program runs from January to September, meeting six times for intensive two-day sessions. Classes are coached by CIOs  and facilitators and include a 30-book reading list. Participants are prodded  to discover their inner leaders by presenting topics, leading discussions and persuading classmates that their experiences have relevance for others.

 You can find a transcript of our conversation here. Read the condensed version here.

August 29, 2008  2:23 PM

CIO weekly wrap-up

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

I’m heading down to New York City for the long Labor Day weekend…I hope everybody else has relaxing and fun plans as well! To take you into the weekend, check out this week’s stories on

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