Don’t Fire the CIO, Transform the Business

Transform the Business
Transform the Business
The headline on the Venture Beat website this weekend was Why you should fire your CIO. The point of the article was that the rest of the executive suite in most organizations is ignorant about IT issues and has abdicated responsibility to the CIO, or they build their own information solutions without sufficient competence in information management. The article suggests that firing the CIO is one way to pass accountability for information management to the business leaders since there will be no place for them to hide. They simply won’t be able to deflect the decisions to the CIO.

The article has a valid point about lack of accountability for information management across the business, but firing the CIO won’t fix it.  In fact it will make things worse since the rest of the executive suite doesn’t have the competence to take on the task and may not be aligned to drive enterprise-wide solutions. Instead, the approach should be to recognize that a change is needed; that information management is a BUSINESS function and not an IT activity.

Start by linking the company’s strategy to information management. Next, identify the business functions that are involved and define the operational capabilities required to be competent. Finally, assess the current capabilities in each function, identify the improvement opportunities and determine the business value of closing the gap.

It helps to have a methodology and framework to steer the program.  My favorite one is the BOST framework and Proact Business Transformation Methodology which I’ve written about before. A case in point is Cisco Systems which is one organization that has adopted the methodology.  To hear John Chambers talk at the Fortune Brainstorm conference (video of Chambers interview), he makes it sound almost easy. It’s not that easy, but it is also not rocket science.  It’s just hard work.