CIOs Need To Learn To Play HEAD Games

CIOs need to learn how to use the HEAD decision making technique
CIOs need to learn how to use the HEAD decision making technique
Image Credit: Ten Aku

As the person with the CIO job you have access to a great deal of information. In fact, some would say that you have access to too much information. Making a decision about the importance of information technology can be a very difficult thing to do. You have a great deal of information sitting at your disposal, but a lot of it may be contradictory. Just exactly how can you go about making a good decision?

Using The HEAD Methodology To Make Better Decisions

In our modern age, when a CIO is called on to make a decision, there is no lack of information. The real problem is that there is often too much information and the information that you have probably does not all agree with itself. It is exactly this situation where we need to have a way to make good decisions.

Philip Mudd is an author who spent a portion of his career working for the CIA, the FBI, and for the National Security Council. He fully understands the challenges that we are facing. He has created what he calls the HEAD methodology: High Efficiency Analytic Decision making (HEAD).

The HEAD approach is all about learning how to ask the right questions. These questions include “what is the problem?”. Also, you’ll want to ask questions that will reveal what your drivers are. The goal is to identify the important characteristics that define your problem. In order to make the right decision you will also want to determine how you will measure performance. You will also need to know what important information is missing.

How Can CIOs Anticipate Unforeseen Situations?

As good as knowing what questions you need to ask before making an important decision is, there are still going to be situations where the person in the CIO position is going to be challenged to know how to do the right thing. Specifically, one of the biggest challenges the CIOs are facing is trying to anticipate unexpected situations before they occur.

The approach to solving this problem that Mudd suggests is to take a different approach to how we go about asking questions. When we are faced with an unknown future, we need to start to ask questions about what we don’t know – not what we do know. Shifting the focus in this way allows CIOs to deal with the so-called “known unknowns”.

This still leaves the problem of the “unknown unknowns” – those things that we don’t even know that we need to know about. When we want to get our hands around these types of decision making situations, what we need to do is to bring in a new team. This team would be made up of renegade thinkers who will challenge our existing ideas and think outside of parameters of convention.

What All Of This Means For You

Here in the 21st Century, CIOs are faced with the somewhat unique situation where we actually have too much information. When it comes time to make a decision, we can find ourselves being paralyzed by lots and lots of information that may all be contradictory. What’s a CIO to do?

One approach is to use the HEAD method for making decisions when we are faced with great quantities of information that may not all agree with each other. The HEAD method consists of High Efficiency Analytical Decision making. In a nutshell, we need to learn to ask the right questions. In order to determine what the right decision is when things are unknown, we need to learn how to ask “out of the box” questions or bring in a new set of people who can challenge our thinking processes.

The one thing that I think that we can all agree on in regards to the future is that we just don’t know what we don’t know. This means that as CIOs when we are placed in a situation where we are expected to make a decision that will impact our IT department and perhaps the company both today and into the future, we need to have a system for making the right decision. The HEAD approach gives us a way to make sure that we’re asking the right questions when it comes time to make a decision. Give it a try and decide if this is the right approach for you.

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

Question For You: When you are facing an unclear future, who else in the company could help you to make the right decision?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Due to the importance of information technology, the person with the CIO job has been handed the responsibility of keeping the company’s information assets safe. This involves a number of different things including preventing the wrong people from gaining access to the company’s networks, etc. However, there is always the possibility that company information may fall into the wrong hands, what to do when this happens? The answer is that all important information should be encrypted, but just exactly what does this mean to a CIO?