How to succeed as a CIO in a new company
The first 90 days are the most critical for new CIOs
The success of the CIO is based on results. Too often new CIOs try to do too much before they know enough. According to the IT Productivity Center, six things that a new CIO should do are:
Find an Internal Ally - It is crucial to quickly get to know the new company. But since no one can be everywhere at once, it’s good to have an observant adviser within the company.
Find someone in the company to “be your counselor, letting you know if the troops need more attention or if they’re confused.” An ally does not have to be a peer or a direct report; it can be junior colleague who is attuned to the workforce and unafraid to share their observations. Often people who needed help rarely came directly to you and ask for help.
Hire a Strong Ally - Hire someone who know how you work and what your strengths and weakness are. They can be a sounding board and at the same time another ally who is totally loyal to you.
Get Things under Control - A CIO who wants to position himself as a strategic partner to executive management should avoid getting bogged down in detail tasks. A new CIO should establish a strong leadership persona, whether that means adding positions, hiring people, or reorganizing. The new company needs the new CIO to have a team and processes in place that support the new CIO's success. That’s not going to happen in 90 days, but the CIO needs to have the commitment in place to support them going forward.
Focus on the Right Issues - CIOs want to control costs and processes, and what better way to do that than tightening the purse strings or project initiatives of the IT department. CIOs often think they’ve got to set an example and that is often the wrong issue to focus on. Doing something solely to be a model for the company can be a mistake because it may send the wrong message. And more than anything, a new CIO needs to be viewed as a team player.
Be a Collaborator - When it comes to strategy, it’s easiest to forge ahead if executives across the company are on board. Particularly for a new CIO, it’s important to vet plans with the right people, whether launching an IT transformation or introducing a new initiative. Keep them updated on where things stand so that they’re hearing how the project is advancing. That way you’re constantly winning buy-in for the next move.
A new CIO should also look for informal support and feedback on how to make projects more efficient and less disruptive to the business. Many of the things the CIO do have a big impact on the other business functions. It’s critical for the CIO to gather input and make sure that he is doing what he can to make it as easy as possible.
Listen - A new CIO should spend lots of time listening. Many CIO spend too much time talking and not enough time taking notes on what they hear. When you’re new, you find so much information and get so many ideas, but it’s not wise to act on those ideas immediately. Rather, the first 90 days are an opportunity to determine which strategies, people, and processes are healthy and which need improvement.
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