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7 Tips for Future CIOs

When gunning for or being groomed for a high-level position, you need all the advice you can get. Alexander the Great notably studied under Aristotle, for instance. In an article for CIO.com, Martha Heller shares advice from Thomas Lord, CIO of UGI Utilities, on the tips to remember to excel as a CIO in the not-so-distant future:

  1. Focus on fundamentals, not distractions.
  2. Resist the perfect solution.
  3. Ensure a shared understanding.
  4. Don’t over-govern.
  5. Maintain trust.
  6. Make vision a team exercise.
  7. Do a gut check.

Looking Ahead Today

The cloud is a means to an end, but it will never be an end in itself. Always keep sight of the fundamentals of delivering services and solutions first. Then think about the gizmos that will get you where you want to be. On that note, be weary of delivering the “perfect” solution, because often the perfect solution is exponentially more costly than a “good” solution. This is especially important to remember when deciding how much of a process to automate.

When it comes to developing shared understanding between the business and IT, what really must be done is validate understanding. Too often people ask for one thing and receive something else because the context was not clear. Lord actually mandates that all his IT people spend five days a year working with people in other departments, to gather more context. But do be sure not to over-govern:

Lord encourages new CIOs to remember that smaller organizations might not need so much IT governance. “Governance is important, but your governance can be as straightforward as the CIO and CEO being on the same page,” he says. “If you are a 200-person company, maybe that’s all you need. Governance is there to ensure alignment between senior leadership and the strategy around how the company will get maximum value from IT. Don’t govern that alignment to death.”

Getting new initiatives off the ground will always require trust. Position yourself as a trustworthy person and back it up by listening to people and supporting their needs. Involve people in IT in setting the vision too. Start with your definite direction, and then allow others to help tweak the trajectory. One person can have the grand vision, but others will always know a thing here or there that eludes the big-picture person.

However, before you even set eyes on the CIO position, decide if it is something you really want. There are lots of ways to stay in demand in IT without being CIO. Decide if you really want to be Chief.

You can view the original article here: http://www.cio.com/article/3107980/cio-role/7-tips-for-future-cios.html

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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