CIO’s secret weapon? A junto

I’ve got some news for you. The biggest issue you have right now — you know the one that has been vexing you for some time — has already been solved.

nihil sub sole novum “There is nothing new under the sun” – Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Okay, so if your issue has already been solved, how to you get to the solution quickly?

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, a polymath and my personal hero, recognized, as a 21-year-old, that the best way to advance his goals was to enlist a group of colleagues to help him. He formed a group. Members of his group were from diverse backgrounds, but had many common interests. They discussed issues of the day, helped solve each other’s problems, and helped advance each other’s causes. He called this group the Junto.

It worked for Ben Franklin; it will work for you too.

Fortunately for us, forming a Junto or an informal advisory group is much, much easier for a CIO than it would have been for Franklin. Finding and connecting with people that can help us is simplified through Linkedin and other tools. You will find that most CIOs are quite willing to take time to help you out if you ask for their advice or ask about their experiences.

Of course, you can join an organization such as Norex that brings CIO’s together to discuss common topics, but you can easily create your own ad-hoc advisory networks.

So, go ahead and begin creating your own personal Junto. Consider including CIOs in your Junto from:

1. Partner organizations (clients, vendors, collaborators). Perhaps the most useful group of connections you might have as they likely have similar challenges (industry, regulatory, risks, etc.).

2. Your industry. I’ve found that even “competitors” will share basic best practices and approaches to IT. Of course, you need to be careful not to share confidential information, but you wouldn’t be a CIO if you didn’t fully understand the boundaries.

3. Your city. Consider the organizations that are in close proximity. It can be easier to have face-to-face meetings. This group can be particularly helpful if you are working with local vendors.

4. Linkedin connections or groups. It can be more difficult to create a group of people that have a looser affiliation to you, but can be worth the effort. Look for connections who are engaged and have more experience than even you do.

So the next time you are trying to figure out how to handle a privacy issue, deal with a security threat, set up a BYOD programme or determine how best to deal with a contractual issue, pull out your secret weapon and ask your Junto.

P.S. Thanks for reading my post. If you have any other suggestions for creating your own Junto, I’d be grateful if you included them in the comment section below.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Stephen Abraham
Stephen Abraham
Stephen Abraham is the CIO and IT Director for the Medical Council of Canada, the organization that issues Licenciates for Physicians practicing medicine in Canada. Mr. Abraham has been a CIO for a decade. He has made many mistakes during his 30 years in IT, and has learned a few things along the way.

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