Leadership

Video: Five habits of wildly unsuccessful CIOs

In episode #6 of Sanity Savers for IT Executives, TechRepublic's Jason Hiner describes five CIO habits that are sure to kill your IT department and doom your career as an IT leader.

In episode #6 of Sanity Savers for IT Executives, TechRepublic's Jason Hiner describes five CIO habits that are sure to kill your IT department and doom your career as an IT leader.For more, you can read the full text of the original article that this episode was based on and benefit from these additional resources:

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

32 comments
ac567
ac567

I don't think anyone even makes CIO if they exhibit these qualities, these really are IT Mangement 101 failings. A CIO is first of all a leader and a coach, motivating and building a successful IT organization, and secondly a team member, seen by his/her executive team colleagues as a key contributor to team/company performance and aligned with their aspirations. If you want to be a bad CIO I suggest you do the former, if you want to get fired do the second.

Matt Larson
Matt Larson

I think that these are easy steps to follow. I look forward to sharing with IT CIO's how they can easily be unsuccessful. I wish more people weren't afraid to promote unsuccessfulness in business.(Disclaimer: the preceding statement was sarcastic). Good video, cleansing breath, m

Becca Alice
Becca Alice

Love the outtakess. ^_^ Tiny thought - the extent of the hand gestures here is a bit distracting. Try to carry over your clean writing style to your gestures - not every word needs a finger-point or a basketball grab. ^_^

No User
No User

We are in the process of converting our Core Processing System. As the lead in the project I met with my counter parts that used the three systems that we had narrowed our search down to. We are going to make a rather radical shift for us which includes dramatically increasing our IT budget and operations. We are getting some really great stuff and I'm thrilled. The point is I had to go to a much larger operation then ours which is a 24/7 staffed operation which has offices over seas and there for the need for 24/7. They are implementing most of what I want but of course on a much larger scale. I met with my counter part her title was V.P. of Technology/CIO. I was was floored by the fact that she couldn't answer my questions nor explain how the IT operations worked in some generalizations and especially in detail. Through out the day I came to find out why. She is a standard business type that has a mild IT back ground and got promoted to her position do to a total lack concern about IT from all the other executives. She in turn has outsourced all IT except for Data processing, Application help desk and created a department of so called Analysts that merely monitor the other departments and both verify and assist in balancing and so forth. Needless to say their IT costs are off the scale. Imagine paying for high to very high level 24/7 on site outsourced IT. Ouch!!!! Since we are in house we will be able to expand beyond what they are doing if for no other reason then the fact that I am aware of the potential and I'm aggressively going at it. Through out our conversations with the joint Chiefs ;) (CFO, CIO, CSO and a couple chiefs that I don't recall their titles) they repeatedly boasted that they could make a lot more profit but simply weren't concerned with profit and they were making enough profit (they are making decent profit that has been verified) and they have no concern about IT even although they freely admitted that they are completely dependent upon IT. Their CEO walked off the job in December and their COO quite a several weeks before we met. The CFO bragged that he was a former investment banker and was retired at 40 and a board member prodded him to take the CFO job. They had been with out a CEO for nearly six months and a COO for over a month. The reason I mention all of this is two fold. One this article and the other articles referenced by this one slaps CIO's who are actually genuine IT people (but are geeks) and non or mild IT/business types and points out all the extreme stereo types and rolls them into one and in doing so paint a picture that most IT folks are just like that. Which is typical of most TR articles and specifically Jason's. They want you to to treat IT as if it has no importance and you exist only to serve and the sooner you forget about IT the better IT professional you will become (professional butt wiper and hand holder). The second point is that IT people don't pick their CIO the company picks "it's" CIO and there for it has nothing to do with IT people not being able to deal with the premiere position in IT and in fact points directly at business (and with that standard business types) being one or more of the following unwilling, arrogant or incompetent to choose a qualified CIO and more to the point to share the necessary power to make it work. There are three kinds of CIO's the folks who are business types (who generally have mild or no IT skills) as the CIO I have mentioned in this post, then there are the folks that are tech geeks which the article points to and they generally have no clue of how to be a manager let alone how to perform in a much larger roll as CIO and then of course the IT folks who understand business and have a 360 degree view and there for are both realists and practical. I will finish with some companies fail with the best plans and greatest efforts and most qualified people and others succeed with a bunch of Blooters and clueless wonders for which the company makes a profit in spite of that. To coin and old phrase... The company continues to grow in spite of it's self.

JCitizen
JCitizen

and threw his contract negotiation ideas in the trash. As a consequence they lost the contract. Needless to say he still has a job but many others paid dearly with theirs, mine included. Good post! Thanks for the input!

bob.zormeir
bob.zormeir

Any chance we can get the text of this, rather than the video?

cdsaenz
cdsaenz

First, my written english is much better than the spoken one. And Second it?s more easy to quote or to send to a friend. I do vote for text articles too...

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

In the blog post, there's a link to the article that this is based on. Here it is again: http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-5088739.html

hauskins
hauskins

Not everything you talk about applies to university settings. Innovation and development in technology is important for us. A CIO that comes from a business background would sink themselves quickly at a university if they actually took some of your points and used them. The biggest issue for my university has been the inability of CIO's to make decisions and see them through. Our last one just left and he sort of left us in the middle of a transformation mess.

ckelly
ckelly

Not at all like the corporate world. I spent 20 years in mfg before working at a U. Whole 'nuther idea. Funding a project can be much more about politics than you'd think. They will focus on donors and such - the core router might be about to die and the web server running on a 286 but if someone gives $10,000 to dye the koi pond school colors and add a fountain guess where the 10K is going. Makes you crazy at first, then you get used to it - or maybe you just adjust your crazy level and go on. Here we do keep our eye on technology. If we can show that spending a little can save some bucks or just about anything that might help retention then it gets serious consideration. Unless enrollment drops, then it's buy your own pencil time LOL.

lmassey
lmassey

Jason, I thoroughly enjoyed this video. Very good information and very well presented - as usual! (I also enjoyed the green-screen bloopers, which totally distracted me from writing this response!) Please keep up the great work.

Jack-M
Jack-M

Your "5 Habits" are right on the money. They do nothing, hear nothing, say nothing, initiate nothing and accomplish nothing.

kathy
kathy

There's a missing bad habit here that I've seen sink many CIOs and that is about understanding that business direction drives IT. IT always has more features on their to-do list than can ever be accomplished in the given timeframe. A great CIO will have the business sense to require business justification for each feature to ensure that the highest impacting features are built first. It doesn't matter that there are 101 very simple changes that could be implemented the shorten the list. If those features don't bring the highest dollar return to the company or they don't lower costs significantly, then they shouldn't be on the top of the list. It's all about the needs of the business and optimizing to that. I've seen many C-level executives go down for not listening to the advice in this video. You're spot-on!

logisticscanada
logisticscanada

Jason needs to tone down the wild flailing arms.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I look at this video and groan. Of course, I'm Italian. What can I say? It comes natural. However, once we get to episodes 9 and 10 (which we've already filmed) you'll notice that the arms don't flail as much. I've made a conscious effort to seriously tone it down. Until then, my apologies for the distraction. :-)

GoodOh
GoodOh

I'm sad you've decided to go the more restrained path in future vids Jason. I liked seeing someone who knew they had something to say and was animated about saying it. I spend my working day with the living dead (burnt out shells who've had the life beaten out of them by "passing through" incompetent bosses and other indignities). To see someone 'getting into it' as you are is refreshing and energising NOT distracting. Thanks again for the great work.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Maybe we need some action, ya know? Batta Bing, Batta aaaaah! You know what I mean! You did fine Jason! Keep the videos coming, I love'em. And tell your buddies who complain about having radio faces to cut it out; this is a business site, not hollywood! It is your professional attitudes that we like here at TR, [b]NOT[/b] the CBS "lets hire the dumb @ss pretty boy/girl for the tech show" idea that should be ascribed to!!! In fact, lets hope those junior execs are watching this, maybe they will learn something about business AND Information Technology!

lauterm
lauterm

s/buildng/building/

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

meant to say "buy." It was like a verbal typo. Is that what you're referring to?

logisticscanada
logisticscanada

Jason needs to tone down his wildly flailing hands. It just becomes too much and distracting.

wrompala
wrompala

it became very distracting. knowing how to use hand gestures to emphasize a point needs to be coupled with knowing _when_ to do it. Was very distracting.

tkeller
tkeller

Reminds me of a guy from AF basic training. This guy would used his hands and arms a LOT when talking. He was given the job of "chow runner" which entailed running to the mess hall to report that our group was approaching, then run back and report to the drill instructor that the mess hall was ready to receive us. Sounds simple, but it was very difficult for him. When reporting, you must stand at attention - stock still with your arms at your sides. The poor guy would stand there blurting out his report, and you could see the muscles bunching and flexing in his arms. And, though his wrists were firmly fixed to his side, his hands would writhe around. It was hard to not burst out laughing.

zael.e.lutz
zael.e.lutz

Another way to sink yourself as a CIO (probably a corollary to two of the points already made) is to implement one of everything. If each new technology solution is evaluated simply on the basis of creating the best solution for the most recent requirement, the end result will be a maintenance nightmare, shakey service levels and impossible staffing issues. Maintaining a limited inventory of technologies by considering existing solutions and sunsetting older ones regularly will keep costs and service levels under control.

sml
sml

zael spins out Jason's fine points. Much can be gained by implimenting some for of Enterprise Architecture (EA). This need not be a huge effort or casue for a new department of architects just sitting and thinking, but could be the IT managers and other technologists take a few moment out of each day and week planning the "engine" (IT) of the business.

mark.byrd
mark.byrd

It is always good to have a reminder about the pitfalls of this business. There are, however, exceptions to most of these rules, and unfortunately, we do have to take the road less traveled.

dwatson8791
dwatson8791

Sometimes that road is less traveled for a reason. The last CIO I worked under was pretty much personally responsible for the outsourcing of the IT dept. He was guilty of 4 out of 5 of the habits mentioned.

havenmoth
havenmoth

New CIO, CFO, owners, etc...- Outsourcing, kept a lot of idiots, let a lot excellent (people who did the actual work) go....

markb582
markb582

Human capital is far more valuable than trying to maintain the funds to keep up with new innovations. Try telling a President that you can't do what is needed cause you don't have the cash to buy the latest solution, when you are sitting there with incredibly talented people capable of implementing a solution. And yes there are risks, but I say, keep the talented employed, it is worth the risks.

GoodOh
GoodOh

Nice!! Nothing in here that should startle anyone but we all see these mistakes made all the time. Should be played to every CIO before they reach for a pen to sign off that next $1million+ deal or project. Are any of these 5 about to bite me?

mtoney
mtoney

I see these as all very important, but also within your own organization of IT, being able to communicate is supremely important and is so underrated. I have seen so many CIOs, at least in the public sector where I am, come and go because of their inability to adequately communicate within their own groups. They make decision without soliciting the idea of the real experts beneath them, the people that keep closest to the technologies. They read about this tech or that, and make the decision based on what is "cool" to them, but don't really know the pitfalls or the difficulties they are introducing in their own infrastructure, development organization, or database architecture. A simple meeting or two to discuss the technology would have revealed the issues as being problematic to the organization and saved him embarrassment of try to use the hammer on a bolt. This lack of comm skills has led to several embarrassing "I don't care what it takes, it has to work" moments for CIOs, where they have had to go back to management and inform them that they spent hundred of thousands of dollars on money that was wasted. You have to trust your people, you have to realize that your talent is in your team, and not in yourself alone. I just think it is not emphasized enough and certainly overlooked by many CIO's.

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