It’s Time to Get in the Game

It’s Time for CIOs to Get in the Game

Are you in the game or on the sidelines? In a recent article on, it is suggested that its time for CIO’s to get in the game. while I couldn’t agree more, I would encourage you to take this article one step further.

If you find yourself wanting to get in the game now, I suggest that you are significantly behind the curve. For how many years has the concept of transformation via the CIO role been around? This is not a new concept, rather a concept that is rising in importance and possibility due to the level of disruption enabled by technology…think “commercialization of IT” as an example.

So, lets presume you are behind the curve. Where do you start? How do you start? I recently fielded questions like this at the PhillyETE conference. Some food for thought:

  • Follow the pain – What are the top 3-5 problems in the business? Find a sponsor to partner with and go solve for one of them, then make it a poster child for the business value you can drive as a CIO. to help identify the pain points, think of the following areas of your enterprise: revenue, operations, client perspective, and competitive position. Surely, there are some low hanging fruit to address in these contexts.
  • Attack the white space – To avoid turf battles and resistance to your delivery of business value, find areas of the company where there is no business model, or little risk. In Adam Hartung’s book Create Marketplace Disruption: How to Stay Ahead of the Competition, he discusses this concept in detail. My simple interpretation is “white space = unexplored opportunities” in your enterprise. For example, find areas of the business where there is no risk to the existing revenue streams and drive value.
  • Innovate, Transform, Lights-On – Chances are you have projects that are transforming your company, and you are undoubtedly running systems to keep the lights on. However, what are you doing to innovate? Framing your activities within these constructs can help you focus on the innovation part. What innovations could be valued by your company? How is your budget allocated across these three areas? Can you find ways to reduce your “lights-on” spend to fund some innovation? presents a great topic that is timely given the current state of the CIO. Take the discussion a step further, get off the sidelines, and get in the game!

IT Governance Rule #3 of 3 – Deliver Value to the Business

In this last installment on IT Governance (for now), let’s discuss the need for a “closed loop” system for IT Governance. So, far in rule #1 (make sure we are doing the right things) and rule #2 (make sure we are doing things right), we have set up business and IT to deliver successfully on the key needs for their respective company. But, how do we know that the results were actually achieved? It takes more than “earned value” or “customer satisfaction”. As change leaders, I suggest that we need an audit level of detail and proof that the business value was delivered and change was achieved.

I recently heard a statement like “51% of statisticians can convince their audience of a conclusion because they make numbers mean anything they want them to mean”. While this may be humorous to most, there is a thread of truth there. Business cases can contain assumptions, constraints, and goals of all types that are true with rose-colored glasses based on a point-in-time perspective. As projects unfold over time, how do you or your company verify that the results were actually achieved based on a new reality (not-so-rose colored glasses and a new points-in-time). Put your CFO hat on and apply the simple construct of budget, actuals, variance, and forecast across not only costs, but on benefits of a project as well. Try auditing the business case to see if the costs AND benefits (sales, revenue, cost reduction, etc.) were actually achieved, and when. And, don’t do this in a vacuum. Consistent with my previous entry regarding agile change management, get the business involved in proving the results. After all, who better then to ensure you are delivering value to the business, than the business leaders themselves.