Undercover CIO: Finding The Secrets That Kill Projects.

Assuming that people are honest with you merely because of your position is one of the biggest mistakes a CIO can make. Employees can't help but present themselves and their work in the most positive light – it's human nature, after all. But human nature, in this case, can make the CIO's job much harder. How can you know what's actually going on in your projects–or how your employees feel about the work and organization they're part of? This post from the Higher Ed CIO presents the idea of the “undercover CIO” – a way to increase visibility into the IT organization while not presenting as much of an affect by the position of the CIO. The premise is simple, really: CIO’s must develop a management approach that allows them to see through the opacity their people create and see around the barriers that get erected. Ideally, you would take a week and become an undercover CIO in your own organization like the TV show Undercover Boss. As an undercover CIO you might spend a day working on your help desk taking calls from your customers. You would then spend a day in deskside support services working level 2 support in the field and doing add, move, change work at a remote site. You could also try the “secret shopper” method of testing the quality and methods your help desk utilizes when taking a day-to-day call. The post suggests utilizing someone from outside the organization in this case, as they will be able to provide a more objective feedback. Other suggestions include embedding a third party CIO to get a firsthand look as a project manager on what's going on within the team, or engage your customers to see what they're experiences have been in working with the team. Perhaps the easiest suggestion is to make it a point to regularly “tour and inspect” operations to notice how things are working. The point in this case isn't to discuss or interact, but to observe the often overlooked. Give thought to becoming an undercover CIO – it might present quite a few otherwise unseen problems for you to address within the team. Whether through outside help or through a few changes in your own weekly activities, it's important to know what goes on when the boss isn't around.

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