Great CIOs Aren’t Afraid To Stumble On The Way To The Top

by drjim on December 21, 2011

G1reat CIOs always slip up before they become great

Great CIOs always slip up before they become great

A quick question for you: are you afraid to fail? Would you be willing to take on responsibility for an IT department that might not be a success? I’m willing to bet that a lot of us would say “no” – CIOs who are perfect are rewarded while CIOs who fail are kicked to the curb. However, I’m going to tell you that you’re wrong – get ready to fail if you want to succeed.

How To Kill Your CIO Career

In your job right now, if you fail then that end-of-year review would be a tough one to sit through, right? Let’s face it, failure is not something that is rewarded in our workplace and in fact it’s something that we all actively avoid if we possibly can.

However, maybe we’re just setting ourselves up for a much bigger career disaster. Can we all admit that the world as we know it is changing? Can you remember watching old-time movies where the hero would get a job at a company and then spend his or her entire career working there? We all know that those days are long gone.

Something else is changing also: our jobs. The job that you had when you started working may already be gone. The CIO one that you’re doing right now probably won’t exist in what, 2, maybe 3 years from now. This all means that you are going to have to change and change involves risk and along with risk comes the very real possibility that you are going to fail.

How To Become A Success By Failing

Well, that failing stuff doesn’t sound like it’s going to be any fun. But wait, has anyone else ever failed? Turns out that yes, in fact most successful people can look at their past and point to failures that helped them to get to where they are now.

The poster child for this kind of “good failure” would be Howard Schultz – the guy who founded the Starbucks chain of coffee shops. We all know and love the Starbucks store today, but when Howard first started it he really blew it. There were no chairs, he played lots of opera music, and his menu was in Italian. Clearly he quickly realized that he had failed, adjusted, and went on to become a big success.

You can do the same. You need to learn to make lots of small bets. Some of these bets will pay off, and some won’t. It’s through what you learn from the failures that you’ll be able to make tiny changes to your approach and try, try again.

If we keep doing things the same way that we’ve always been doing them, then we will eventually stagnate and then we’ll go into decline. However, if you have the courage to start to fail and to learn from those failures, then the future contains limitless possibilities for both you and your career.

What All Of This Means For You

CIOs who are afraid to fail will never become a true success. Oh sure, they may do ok for a few years, but when things get really rough, they’ll wash out.

If you are willing to adjust how you view failure, your career can take off. If you can start to look at failures as being simply being learning experiences that are not be feared, but they are to be used to become a better CIO then you’ll be able to grow and become better at what you do.

No, you can’t be an idiot about this and do silly things that cause your IT department to fail, but if you try your hardest and your department still fails than you will have learned what doesn’t work. The big deal is that it takes courage for you to be able to do this.

CIOs who are a success have to had failures in their past. It’s from the forge of failure that the steel of success is formed. Learn how to make small bets so that you can learn what works and what doesn’t. Do this well and you’ll become a successful CIO.

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

Question For You: What’s the best way to get your CEO to become comfortable with failures as a sign of success?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So there I was the other day talking with one of my CIO customers and I was going on and on about how they could introduce cloud computing into their IT department. I had been working with this client for several years and we know each other very well so he felt comfortable in stopping me in mid-sentence. He said “Jim, I’ve been hearing a lot about this cloud computing stuff and I sorta know what is it, but I’m not sure that I fully understand it. ” Oops, I hadn’t realized that there were still folks out there that hadn’t “drunk the cloud Kool-Aid”. Ok, so now we’re going to take care of this.

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