Many CIOs are not rising to the level of seniority or executive contribution they feel they should be. Why not? It comes down to key areas of leadership failure, such as focusing on inputs instead of outcomes, or failing to use metrics that the rest of the business understands.
The good news is CIOs can develop skills to put “leader” back in the term “IT leader.” CIO doesn’t have to stand for “Career is Over” anymore.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen CIOs who used to be part of the executive suite reporting to the CEO or president finding themselves relegated to a lesser role and attached more to the CFO, said Craigg Ballance, president of E-finity Group Inc. and an expert with The Advisory Council, who gave a webinar on the topic last November.
“This is a disturbing trend because it says to us that the CIOs of today are not being seen by many management and executive groups as a strategic component of their organization,” he said. “This must be where a modern CIO focuses their efforts to become part of this strategic group.”
In their priorities for 2011, many CIOs have indicated they want to be more integrated into the fabric of the C-level in the organization and build credibility, said Dave Codack, head of employee technology and network services at TD Financial Services.
In many cases CIOs report one or two layers down from where the senior executive team sits, unless they’ve been able to prove themselves effective at delivering technology in a way in which it’s a differentiator for the company, which in many cases it’s not. “They fail because they’re not seen as being credible agents within the organization,” said Codack, “whether it be strategy, driving change for the organization, or introducing technology that’s going to assist them in their business objectives.”
At the end of the day, your IT operations have to run well – but that’s expected nowadays. “Where IT gets knocked, and legitimately so, is on the delivery of major projects,” said Codack. “The stats on those haven’t changed in 40 years. They’re over-budget and they’re late and there’s not any advance warning they’re not making fast enough changes to curb the demise of a project.” CIOs will never get out of the quagmire of “here we go again,” he said, unless they start focusing on business values attributes.
Value? What value?
Most IT leaders would argue that they’re delivering value to the business – whether it’s acknowledged or not – but the movement toward outsourcing and the cloud means their contribution is becoming less about the mechanics of IT and more about the strategy behind it.
The problem is there’s a tremendous credibility gap. “I’d challenge anyone to come up with much literature saying the average IT-enabled projects are highly successful,” said Ballance.
In a 2009 study by The Standish Group, business users said they felt 44 per cent of their IT projects were challenged, while 24 per cent were outright failures. They therefore claimed that 68 per cent of their IT projects were not successful. “The general mentality of success is still not there,” said Ballance. “The projects often work, but they still are not seen as successful.”