Surviving the first 100 days as a new CIO
Friday, October 08, 2010
Alex Blues, Head of IT Sourcing, at PA Consulting Group
In a series of four blogs, Alex Blues, Head of IT Sourcing at PA Consulting Group, guides newly-appointed CIOs through the necessary tasks and emphases of the first 100 days in the job…
Welcome to the jungle that is your new CIO role. How can you survive all the unknown trials that are about to face you? Who will be your allies and who wants to see you evicted? Here are some survival techniques to help steer you through.
You are most likely to have been brought in ‘to make a difference’ or ‘take us to the next level’. Almost undoubtedly replacing someone who achieved all they could achieve but was not suitable for the next steps, or who left when there was work still to be done.
As a new CIO you are in a unique position. This is your honeymoon period, never will you be as popular or have as many allies as in the first few months of your role. Everyone will want to be your friend and tell you how pleased they are to see you, normally because the last incumbent refused to get them a new laptop every time a shiny slightly smaller version became available. Make the most of this unique position to make change and make a difference. Also at this time, because you may well be new to the organisation, you are seen to have an external view of the IT industry and how things should be done.
So what should you do to survive? Is it about surviving or doing a good job? Are these things the same or mutually exclusive? With the average tenure of an IT executive being about two years you could argue that those with the survival instinct are the most successful.
What will be covered here is not just surviving but genuinely making change; but doing this by bringing people along with you on the journey, and not fighting a battle at every board meeting. It is also worthwhile asking yourself the question:
‘Why have you been employed here? Is it to run a steady ship or to enable change?’
Regardless of whether you are on the board or not, compared to most members of a typical board you have a number of key advantages. You provide the link between business and technology, this is a fine balance. If you go too technology focussed or too business focussed you lose your unique selling point, so keep that balance right to ensure your importance to the board.
You are also rarely seen as a threat in the hierarchy so can avoid all the posturing of finance and operations directors who often strive to hold the balance of power on the board. So with all this considered where and how should you focus your attention during the first 100 days of your tenure?
In the second of this four part series next week, Alex Blues will tackle the issue of creating value for money.