The Business-Technology Weave

Jul 22 2010   9:47AM GMT

Establishing the Appropriate IT Hierarchy

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


I was reading an interesting article at today.  I just happened to land on, Global CIO:  The Top 10 CIO Issues for 2010 by Bob Evans.  It’s a great article. 

I was struck by something on the second page – Issue 7) CIO Priorities, CIO Compensation, CIO Evaluation.  Even if you’re not a CIO, the thought that struck me still pertains to anyone working in the larger field of IT.

You can refer to the item as necessary, but Mr. Evans asks the question (of CIOs), “How are you paid?”  He notes: not how well, but “how” as in… for what are you being paid?  He asks in part if your compensation package is mapping to “tired jobs” of counting PCs, and functioning as an assistant to the CFO – as opposed to what he calls the new firebrand-type CIO – with growth, customers and market-centric innovation as key drivers. 

Say what??

If you, as a CIO, or you, as an IT staff member, are laboring in an IT department (and by extension, embedded in an organization) that has CIOs laboring to granular, mundane, details such as PC counts then something is grossly out of balance (and here neither I, nor Mr. Evans, mean running around performing a physical count, but rather answering to the counts).  Any organizational department is a hierarchy:  PCs darn sure need to be counted – as but one example from the article – and someone has to do the counting. 

But it’s doubtful if many CIOs are “counting” in even an overview sense.  A workstation population is a line in a budget, and it can be managed according to identification of less expensive items, more “bang for the buck” discoveries, etc., as delivered by proactive IT Directors/Managers, Network Managers, HelpDesk staff, even end-users – anyone the organization decides to actualize and listen to in delivering ever greater returns on behalf of business.  The CIO, in part, leads, inspires, and trusts:  At least in the environments that accrue and retain true, trusted, talent.

A post or two ago I spoke of “an accrual of returns.”  Get everyone actualized – focusing on the near-term horizon and on the slightly more distant future – watch for things that work elsewhere, look to the puzzle pieces that may fit your future and suggest, test, implement…

I suggest you look up Mr. Evans’ article – it’s a great piece, and he likely has his finger on the pulse of many organizations:  hobbling their CIO’s with what he refers to as “plumbing style metrics” (uptimes, line-items, SLAs, headcounts), which in-turn prevents CIOs from making imaginative contributions.  Contributions such as process breakthroughs and tech innovations in service to sales, markets, customers and overall business profitability and success.  I say:  If CIOs are hobbled, then there undoubtedly is a crippling compress on all elements of IT and the people staffing it.  A corresponding business hobble is inevitable.

As I wrote a few days ago, IT leaders who want to be truly effective must deliver on business expectations and beyond.  In doing that, you must disabuse IT governance (business) of old-school notions of IT – IT is not what I used to call “glorified typewriter repair.”  In doing this, you must install the modern IT department, with clear (but overlapping and backed up) division of duties; that’s not too difficult for the true IT leader and with a little sanction from HR.  Following that, install appropriate inspiration to IT staff to grow their positions for the oncoming future (by virtue of their suggestions for leaders’ review and subsequent appropriate sanction).

IT is a functioning and enabling arm of business – and it’s contribution cannot be underestimated any more than, say, Sales and Marketing.

July 22nd:  On this day in 1796, Cleveland, Ohio was founded by General Moses Cleaveland.

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