Interview: 5 things newly appointed CIOs must do to succeed

Joe Peppard

An interview with Professor Joe Peppard on the five things newly appointed CIOs must do in order to become credible and legitimate business leaders.

New research into the role of the CIO has highlighted what recently newly appointed incumbents must do to succeed in their new position. What would you recommend?

1. Be prepared for surprises, even after extensive due diligence.

Nothing beats actually being in your new organisation. You have to remember that the initial information you collected was given to you in a process designed to encourage you to join the company or accept the new position.

2. Use the first 90 days to learn about the organization.

This goes beyond simply diagnosing IT problems and assessing your IT leadership team. It includes understanding the political environment, company culture and strategy as a whole as well as who the company power brokers are.

3. Recognize that what worked for you in the past might not be successful again.

Successful transitions are described as ‘doing the right things, the right way’. Understand the company’s culture and capacity for change and institute an action plan that fits.

4. Build a shared vision for the role and contribution of IT.

Being forward-looking - envisioning exciting possibilities and galvanising others in a shared view of the future – is the attribute that most distinguishes leaders from non-leaders.

5. Build C-Suite IT savvy by delivering demonstrative value.

The best way to increase the IT savvy of your executive stakeholders is to demonstrate how IT can generate value and enable key business strategies. It is important to set realistic expectations and measure business results post-implementation. Once projects begin to yield value, you can start building momentum. Remember, most executives will not have bought into the shared responsibility view of IT and will see anything to do with information and IT as falling outside the scope of their responsibilities.

What else does the research show?

This research shows the way for newly appointed CIO’s in what is an increasingly daunting and ambiguous role. Given the disruptive potential of technology, the CIO is perhaps more important to todays’ organisation than ever before, and yet they are often still seen as the ‘Black Sheep’ of the C-suite. Historically, the CIO has been cast as a techie – more comfortable working on the technical aspects of IT systems than helping to devise and deliver overall business strategy. This is accurate and needs to change. In the age of ‘Big Data’ the strategic importance of information is clear - and it is the CIO’s responsibility to work with C-suite colleagues to make sure that this information is harnessed in the most beneficial way. With the level of digital literacy in the boardroom still far too low, the CIO must step up and act like a legitimate business leader in order to make sure this happens.

Leadership and Change, Strategy

Information and Communications Technologies

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