Why CIOs Need Management Power Maps To Get Anything Done

CIOs Need To Create Power Maps To Know Who's In Charge
CIOs Need To Create Power Maps To Know Who’s In Charge

Poof! Now you’re the CIO. How are you going to get anything done? Are you some sort of superhero who can be everywhere at the same time? Do you have the ability to work 27 hours a day, 8 days a week? I’m guessing not, or at least not for very long. It looks like you are going to have to rely on the “M” word – “management”. What this really comes down to is simply that you’re going to have to get the right people in your IT department to step up and do the right things. I wonder who has the power to do those things right now…?

The Problem With Management Power In IT

The idea that as CIO you put the right people in the right spots within your organization and then have them do the heavy lifting of actually performing the actions that will move the department and the company forward sound wonderful. The challenge is that almost no IT department ever has this setup.

Instead, all too often both talent and authority are sprinkled throughout an IT department – not enough of it ever seems to be where it needs to be. As a CIO you are going to have to first identify how much of a power management problem you have, and then you are going to take steps to fix it.

Let’s Take A Survey!

Unless you have the magical ability to read minds, you’re not going to be able to determine where power lies within your IT department unless you get your IT staff to tell you. Sure you could go cube-to-cube and ask everyone a series of questions; however, there’s actually a much better way: have them take a survey.

You can decide exactly what questions you want to ask your staff. However, you’re going to want to break your questions into three distinct groups.




  • The second set of questions will try to determine where they think that they fall in the IT department’s organization chart.



  • The third set of questions will deal with what is called “objective authority” – this has to do with what activities they’ve been authorized to do: hire, fire, set budgets, etc. It may have nothing to do with how much authority they think that they have.


What The Management Power Map Will Tell You

Once you’ve collected your survey results, you need to graph the results on two axis: sense of responsibility vs hierarchy. Michael Segalla is a professor who has been studying management power maps and what they really mean. He recommends color coding the points on your graph to show how much objective authority each point thinks that they have.

What you should find is that your top managers have both a high sense of responsibility as well as a belief that they are at the top of your IT department’s org chart. Conversely, junior members of your department should be in the opposite corner of your management power graph with low responsibility and low positions within the IT org chart.

As CIO what you need to focus on are two other groups. One is groups of managers who have been given a great deal of objective authority, but who are still stuck far down in the IT hierarchy. These are the people who are running your IT department but they’ll leave if they don’t get recognized for their contributions.

Likewise, you’ll want to identify those IT staffers who are high in your IT department’s hierarchy but who don’t feel that they have a high level of responsibility. No matter how much objective authority these people have, they have somehow been passed over and may take out their frustrations by acting as roadblocks to transformational IT projects.

What All Of This Means For You

Every CIO is only as good as the department that they manage. In order to maximize your chances of success, you are going to have to make sure that you have the right people with the right authority in the right positions.

In order to make sure that this is the case, you need to conduct a survey in order to collect the information that you need to create a management power map. Once you have the information that you need, you can identify IT staff that have not been promoted quick enough and staff that have been promoted too fast.

Making sure that the real power in your IT department is spread out correctly is key to your long term success as a CIO. You can’t do it all by yourself and so a management power map is a powerful tool that will let you find your way to success…

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

Question For You: Do you think that the survey should be anonymous or should you know who made what response?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Have you had it with all of the “green” programs that you’ve been hearing about recently? As CIOs you’d think that such things would not have much of an impact on the IT organization – I mean, that green stuff really only applies to the folks in the company who manufacture things and run the company’s buildings, right? It turns out that this isn’t the case at all. Just like the impact that IT has on every other part of the company, the CIO is also going to play a role in your company’s efforts to “go green”. Now if you only knew what you had to do…