3 Big Insights into What Fuels Strategic IT Leadership

Not many people think about the psychology underlying what motivates IT to become more strategic. But Mark J. Schiller got curious, so he started asking. The answers are both surprising and—in some cases—very worrisome. From his discussions with various IT leaders, Schiller compiled three big insights into an article for CIO Insight:

  1. IT strategy is about people, not technology.
  2. Stakeholders are not the problem (yet).
  3. Developing a strategic voice is the biggest challenge for IT leaders.

Fuels and Fears

When asked why they want to become more strategic, none of the IT leaders tapped by Schiller cited reasons involving wanting to play with new technology. Instead, half of leaders wanted to use strategy to galvanize their teams, and another half wanted to become more strategic to garner more acceptance from other business leaders. In all cases, the desire to become strategic had to do with strengthening relationships between people in the organization.

Another question asked of respondents was what their biggest challenge to becoming more strategic was. Schiller anticipated stakeholder resistance would be the top response, but that was not the case at all; only 12.5 percent cited this reason. Rather, the biggest barrier was just that IT leaders spent all their time engaged in one-off projects or fighting fires, which left no time remaining to start thinking strategically:

Most IT leaders haven’t even reached the point at which their stakeholders can ignore their strategic perspective.

Instead, they are still struggling with the first barrier to strategic IT leadership: Most IT leaders remain caught in a purely functional view of how they can contribute to their business. They feel challenged to see what they can do beyond solving the crisis of the day. They lack a greater vision of the value their technological expertise can offer their business. …

Throughout our survey, when we asked these IT leaders what was holding them back from becoming more strategic, at heart they kept saying just one thing: “I want to add strategic value to my business, but I don’t know how.”

This is a disturbing realization, that CIOs neither have the time nor the closeness to the business to understand how they can really improve business operations. In this light, it sounds like organizations are letting their CIOs down. But what can be done to improve this situation? What do you think?

You can view the original article here:


John Friscia

John Friscia was the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success from 2015 through 2018. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and grew in every possible way in his time there. John graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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