The friendly co-pilot

You are a member of the leadership team of your IT organization, or perhaps are the CIO or the boss of the CIO. Sometimes you naturally have problems and may need some help.

That’s where I come in. As a former IT manager with IBM Canada and a long time management consultant helping IT leaders and their bosses wrestle with management problems, I may be able to help you in this column as I have helped others during my career.

Perhaps your top problem concerns organizational or HR issues, understanding technology to the depth that you need to be effective, relationships with peers or executives in the organization, changing internal processes or behaviours in your organization, IT strategy and its relationship to organizational direction- any number of issues.

Inside your enterprise there are, no doubt, several resources to support you: the Human Resources department, the accounting department, your peers within IT, your boss or peers in other line organizations. However, often you need a “fresh set of eyes and ears”- someone from outside your organization with different experiences and perspectives who has advised clients with similar problems- someone who is not part of your culture and internal “politics”, but recognizes their influence.

In my management consultant practice, my focus is the management of information technology covering a host of areas including: strategic planning, organizational development, alternate forms of service delivery, contract negotiations, relationship building along with many others. Most of my time is spent in Canada, but I had engagements as an expert witness in California concerning outsourcing deals that “went south”.

Much of my practice is devoted to one- on- one discussions with IT leaders addressing problems and potential opportunities. In addition I have facilitated many planning sessions of IT leadership teams- often involving the CIO’s boss.

Submit your issue (or opportunity) to my confidential mailbox, [email protected], and I, in consultation with others with significant experience in the business, will provide you with an analysis and a potential resolution on a subsequent blog. Submissions will be kept anonymous, but please provide enough information about yourself so that readers can identify with the situation; for example, “a CIO for a mid- sized manufacturing company based in southern Ontario……”

I look forward to the upcoming dialogue with today’s IT leaders.


Graham McFarlane is a consultant based in Calgary who specializes in the management of information technology. He is an Industry Research Fellow at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary. A past-president of the Institute of Certified Management Consultants of Alberta (ICMCA), he worked for 10 years at IBM Canada in technical, project management and line management positions.


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