We all know what a CIO is or what he does. We all also know that in today’s environment is impossible for a company to exist without a CIO. But what is a good, not only good, but what is an outstanding CIO? This goes a lot beyond leadership styles or specific IT knowledge!
It starts from what is expected from a senior IT executive. A contemporary IT leader is able to influence directly the bottom line of a company with its decisions, or lack of them, therefore his actions or gaps will show off, directly or not, on your quarterly balance sheet.
Therefore, this person must have an owner’s perspective in his actions. Not only that, but he (or she) must understand deeply what the company does and how it does what it does. But this is not enough. You must also know the market and the competition. And this goes a lot deeper than just scoring a new Enterprise System.
I, once being a CIO from a food manufacturing company, spent entire days and weeks on the manufacturing plants, talking to blue collars about their job roles, expectations and, more importantly, frustrations while performing their jobs. I rode with delivery trucks doing daily deliveries. I visited POSs and talked to retailers of our products. Not only that, but I was member of the board of directors and knew every step the company was doing, about to do or planning to do. I needed to walk in pace with the business. From top to bottom, I knew exactly what it took from wheat to a carborara pasta on a customer’s plate. And that was key to make the exact decisions at the most beneficial time.
I had also worked from a broker dealer where its systems needed to be replaced and were heavily criticized by its customers. I talked to hundreds of them over the course of my job. I understood every frustration or need in each person I talked to. That made me understand the priorities and manage a lot beyond that last Survey Monkey results.
I also consulted to companies that simply did not understand its own IT purpose. That can’t be worse to a company shareholder.
After you figure out, as the Head of IT from your company, what you really do from bottom to top, only then you’ll be ready to start driving your team to make the real changes your company needs. And I’ll bet that these changes will be a lot more meaningful from the ones you did before.
Rodrigo Moura Fernandes