It was 2002 and I had been asked to step up into the CIO seat. At the time, I was the head of Infrastructure. I had built an excellent reputation as a “get it done” leader which had resulted from a very effective technology integration of two equal-sized merged companies. It was a tough decision. I knew I was not ready, and I wasn’t confident I wanted the job. I accepted the position to prevent someone from coming in from the outside.
 

Oh, how I often wish for a do-over. Though I was a member of the senior executive leadership, I was not accepted as a partner. I did not deserve to be. I was frustrated on many fronts as I knew I needed to step it up. As such, I requested funding to subscribe to what was then the elite CIO “training” opportunity under the Meta Group CIO mentoring program. My assigned CIO Coach, Louis Boyle, saved me big time. As my coach and mentor, he helped me to see beyond my experience and taught me to look at business problems strategically as solutions to be solved. At that time, mobile computing and business intelligence were promising technologies and I got lucky with vendor and business partners willing to work with us on some pretty leading-edge technology solutions. It helped that I had a fantastic IT team on my side.

Fast forward to today and the technology solutions back then appear to be out of an old science fiction movie. The capabilities coming out of the digital transformation are driving the integration of technology into all areas of the business. They are changing how companies operate and deliver to their customers. The hardest part is the cultural change requirements that require leaders to continuously challenge the status quo, experiment with courage, and grow comfortable with failure.

All these things have elevated the CIO role, yet I still see IT leaders struggle to collaborate with business units at a strategic level effectively. Too many times, CIO’s and their IT organization are thought to be a barrier to change and sadly in some cases they are believed to be order takers. To add to the challenge is the breadth of expectations of the IT leadership. Fundamentally, they must make sure they are delivering on core services like email and network access. If the core services are not working, no one will be interested in hearing their innovative strategic ideas.

While some challenges still exist, a 2018 State of the CIO survey reported stronger alignment between IT and their business partners. Almost three-quarters of the survey responses said IT and the business engage more frequently when there is shared oversight.

CIOs have the opportunity to play a significant role in assisting the business in driving innovation. This opportunity is greatly enhanced when the CIO is looked at as a strategic advisor.

How do you find out where you stand? It is best to ASK.

You can ask through conversation. It is not very time-consuming on both the CEO and the CIO. Unfortunately, there is a tendency for the CIO not to ask and it is not the priority of the CEO to tell.

You can ask through a survey tool. Fortunately, two InfoTech diagnostic tools have proven very helpful in both measuring and identifying opportunities to improve – the CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic and the CIO Business Vision diagnostic.  

 

CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic

The CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic measures six critical areas of IT performance to enable the prioritization of improvement initiatives. The survey questionnaire is only 20 questions that can be completed in less than 20 minutes. Areas addressed include the CEO’s overall satisfaction of IT, IT budget, staffing, business needs for technology, performance measurements, project portfolio progress, and stakeholder alignment.

Here is a snapshot view of the CEO-CIO alignment with the business goals view:
 
A feature of the report that resonates with both the CEO and CIO is the comparison of the CEO and CIO’s performance perceptions. A snapshot of the report is portrayed here. The gap in perceptions enables the CIO to provoke what may be the most candid conversation across the life of the CIO career. The visibility into the gaps between the CIO and CEO perception is priceless in providing the basis for the CIO focus and direction.


CIO Business Vision Diagnostic

The second tool I use is the Info-Tech CIO Business Vision Diagnostic. The insights and benefits of this diagnostic are broad. It looks at the needs of the stakeholders, enables getting beyond rumor and opinion to facts, and provides a baseline performance and capacity measurement at both the organization and the department level. An outcome of the report is the insight that enables a focus on what is essential to the business. The CIO Business Vision is most effective when it is executed periodically. CIO’s find the overall performance and capacity metrics will play an essential role in governance and strategy decisions and action plans.

IN CLOSING

 
To assure the success and effectiveness of their IT organization, CIO’s cannot leave their relationship with the CEO to chance:
  • As investment in technology continues to increase, management and control of the IT budget rests on internal IT leadership AND CIO’s need the trust of the CEO to retain that control.
  • The need for collaboration between heads of IT and LOB leaders continues to increase.
  • Availability of skilled resources will continue to plague the CIO, requiring an even greater need to measure performance.
  • As the focus continues to shift to digital transformation, there’s a high potential for more technology decisions to be made outside of IT, driving a higher need for collaboration between IT, CEO, and business peer. CIO’s cannot leave their relationship with the CEO to chance.

Even though a CIO benefits from focusing on stakeholder management and relationship building, there is value in measuring the perception of the CEO and business peers against your own.

I am providing you a link to the InfoTech CEO-CIO Alignment and the CIO Business Vision sample reports. If either sparks your interest, give me a call to discuss how diagnostics might ensure your success.

Until next time – I am here if you have questions or want to talk!

Regards,
Mary

 
 

Mary Patry 
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach   
 480.393.0722 (AZ) 
 Mary.Patry@iteffectivity.com 
LinkedIn: http:// www.linkedin.com/in/mleonardopatry 

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