Motorola CIO Patty Morrison sleeps well at night. She takes real vacations. She has time to think. It doesn’t sound like the typical description of life as a CIO, particularly an IT leader at a US$42 billion company in the midst of a major reorganization in the acutely competitive communications equipment market.
Truth be told, there may be a little hyperbole in Morrison’s self portrayal. Her plate is full. She determines long-term IT strategy, works closely with executive peers to decide the right direction for the company, and travels the world to communicate the corporate mission to the enterprise and its customers.
But when it comes to the day-to-day operation and success of her 2,200-person technology department, Morrison’s concerns are few. She doesn’t get middle-of-the-night calls about network outages. She’s not putting out IT fires instead of eating lunch. When Motorola created a new integrated supply chain division that IT had to support, Morrison barely broke a sweat. She sought out Ones to Watch (OTW) winner Cathie Kozik, corporate VP of IT, supplied her with the necessary resources and watched her create an effective IT group from scratch.
Morrison’s not lucky. Like most successful CIOs today, the 25-year IT veteran makes a concerted effort to foster leadership at all levels of her IT organization. She knows that the benefits of pushing accountability for IT success further down the org chart go beyond personal perks like getting a good eight hours of sleep. And it’s not just succession planning we’re talking about. CIOs who want to succeed as business partners and strategists can’t do it alone.
“A CIO has a lot of priorities. As a general rule, they should spend at least half their time outside the four walls of their own organization,” says Susan Cramm, IT leadership expert and founder of