3 Ways That CIOs Look At The World Differently Than Everyone Else

by drjim on February 5, 2014

CIOs have to see the world differently than everyone else

CIOs have to see the world differently than everyone else
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In order to be a successful CIO, you need to be able to look at the world around us differently than everyone else. All of the things that you’ll be seeing will be the same things that everyone else sees; it’s just how you interpret the things that you see that needs to be done differently. Specifically, there are 3 ways that a CIO see the world differently than everyone else.

Not Parts, But Rather Systems

One of the most important ways that a CIO’s view of the world is different from everyone else’s is in that when they look at an IT department they don’t see a mixed up collection of individual parts. As a CIO you understand the importance of information technology. Instead, what they see is a system of interconnected parts. This way of viewing an IT department becomes very important when a CIO starts to think about making changes.

Before they had the CIO job, a CIO had a much smaller world that they were in charge of. They knew this world very well – it had a limited number of parts that made it up. They could tinker with various parts of their world and see how things changed. The best part of this is that they couldn’t do too much wrong – their changes had very little impact beyond their small part of the world.

Now as CIO, things have changed. When you make a change to one part of the IT department, it could cause significant changes to the rest of the department. What you may think of as being a small change to improve the department’s productivity, may actually have a significant ripple effect that could cause a significant amount of turmoil for the rest of the department.

Stop Focusing On Problems, Start Focusing On Plans

One of the reasons that you may have been placed into the CIO position at your company is because of your ability to solve problems. This is a critical skill that the company can observe in you and they would like you to apply to the CIO job. However, if you want to become a successful CIO, then you are going to have to change your approach to how you tackle problems.

Specifically, instead of spending your time solving problems, you are going to instead have to spend your time identifying what problems the IT department needs to solve. This also means that you are going to have to get out of the business of actually solving problems.

Instead, as CIO you are going to have rely more on your ability to delegate in order to get problems solved. The list of problems that the IT department needs to tackle may at times seem to be overwhelming; however, this just means that you are going to have to become good at prioritizing. You should be able to rely on members of the IT department as well as representatives from the rest of the company to help you to determine where the department should spend its time.

Put Down The Sword, Pick Up The Pen

As a manager of part of the company, you probably often spent your time in combat. You were scrambling for funding, staff, and other limited resources. Your team was also working on projects that were designed to allow your company to effectively compete against other firms.

However, now as CIO you have a different role to play. You are going to find yourself playing the role of diplomat more often than warrior. You are going to be called on to find ways to build bridges between your IT department and the rest of the company as well as with partners, vendors and possibly even the competition.

This is going to require you to develop a set of new skills. These skills are going to include negotiation, conflict management, persuasion, and even alliance building. Your job is no long going to be to find a way to achieve a short term “win” for the company. Rather, what you’ll be looking to do is to find ways to establish long term paths to success for both your IT department and the different entities that it works with.

What All Of This Means For You

In order to be a successful CIO, you have to be able to take in all of the inputs that everyone else does, but you then have to see the world differently. As a CIO you need to have the ability to process inputs in ways that will allow you to show the IT department the correct way forward.

The three different ways that a CIO needs to be able to see the world includes the ability to see the resources that are available to him or her and then be able to create organizational systems that work to make organizational changes. Next the ability to move beyond being a problem solver and to become the person that creates the agenda that will be used to identify the problems that the organization needs to solve will be required. Finally, bringing an end to trying to win conflicts between the IT department and internal and external organizations and instead finding ways to broker deals that bring long term peace to all.

Changing the way that you view the world is never an easy thing to do. However, as CIO you are going to have to do this in order to be successful. Take the time to make these three changes to the way that you look at your world that we’ve discussed and you’ll be ready for everything that the world throws at your IT department.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that a CIO should be completely hands off on problems solving or should he / she step in if it’s taking too long?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

More and more CIOs are finding themselves in charge of global IT departments. This is posing a unique problem for them: given the importance of information technology, how can they connect with the members of their IT department in order to determine what is really going on and what really needs to be done? It turns that the answer is both simple and complex: CIOs need to learn how to master the power of having a good conversation.

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