Introduction: The CIO Paradox
Heller has met and worked with hundreds of CIOs of which led her to write the “CIO Paradox”, a book which discusses the challenges CIOs face in their daily job.
She saw that the CIO paradox is a set of perennial contradictions that permeates the core role of the CIO.
CIOs to be successful in this day and age, they must achieve balance in their skills, plans, and methods to eliminate blind spots and to achieve sustainable success for their departments and for their companies.
This brings us to the following questions:
Why is it that CIOs devote significant energy to succession planning, and yet when they leave, their CEOs typically go outside to replace them?
Why is it that IT can be a company’s strategic differentiator—or can bring a company to its knees—yet corporate boards rarely appoint CIOs?
Why do CEOs claim they are seeking a strategic IT leader, yet a year later, the new CIO winds up spending all of her time putting out operational fires?
Why does IT leadership get harder as the business community gets smarter about technology?
Why do companies still not know how to hire a CIO?
On her years of experience working with CIOs she heard the following complaints:
I inherited a mess.
IT had no credibility with the business.
Projects were overdue and over budget.
No project management discipline.
No career paths.
The team had outdated skills.
This led her and her whole team come up with the CIO paradox which falls on four categories:
- You were hired to be strategic but spend most of your time on operational issues.
- You are the steward of risk mitigation and cost containment, yet you are expected to innovate.
- You are seen as a service provider, yet you are expected to be a business driver.
- IT can make or break a company, but CIOs rarely sit on corporate boards.
- You run one of the most pervasive, critical functions, yet you must prove your value constantly.
- Your many successes are invisible; your few mistakes are highly visible.
- You are intimately involved in every facet of the business, but you are considered separate and removed from it.
- You are accountable for project success, but the business has project ownership.
- Your staff is most comfortable with technology, but must be good with people.
- Your staff is doing more with less, but must make time for learning finance and the business.
- You develop successors, yet the CEO almost always goes outside to find the next CIO.
- You are forced to seek cost-efficient overseas sourcing, yet you are expected to ensure the profession’s development at home.
- Technology takes a long time to implement, yet your tool set changes constantly.
- Technology is a long-term investment, but the company thinks in quarters.
- Your tools cost a fortune, yet they have the highest defect rate of any product.
- You sign vendors’ checks, yet they often go around you and sell to your business peers.
Through the CIO paradox she aims to present the CIO position in depth.
One of its goals as well is to dig in into the Archivist versus Futurist Paradox, also called as the Legacy Paradox.
Included in the discussion is role of the Staff or the team itself—the people that CIOs work with.
Her approach to writing this the book stems from the rich tradition of peer information exchange, setting up interviews with CIOs from a wide range of industries, asking about their opinions, approaches to managing the challenges they face.
She believes that the keys to solving the CIO Paradox lie in the experiences, thoughts, lessons learned, philosophies, wit, and wisdom of all of those CIOs who are actually doing these jobs.
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