You’ve Done Your 4.1 Years… Now What?

We CIOs are known to be a mobile bunch. Gartner Research recently pegged the average tenure for a CIO to be 4.1 years.  At the end of this month, I celebrate my fourth anniversary in my current role.

According to Gartner, I should be primping my resume.

Image: MS Office Imagebank

But what if you don’t want to go anywhere?

How do you still add value to your organization?

You've picked all the low hanging fruit that generated great savings and by now you really should have lived through one total infrastructure lifecycle and four budget periods.

You are an active and fully participating member of the senior leadership team.

Your IT team has been restructured to meet the current needs and you’ve implemented Project

Portfolio Management and rapid application development tools.

You are fully up to date in all of your enterprise systems.

You've adjusted your Service Catalog to ensure your team is only working on things that differentiate or add value to your organization.  All other (critical but non-differentiating) services and systems have been outsourced or moved to SaaS, IaaS or PaaS.

Your customers, clients and team are (mostly) happy.

If you go by Gartner’s number, the next phase of CIO tenure is uncharted territory for many CIOs.  It would probably be easier to go to a new organization and start all over, but if you are up to the challenge, here are five things to think about:

1.  How’s it working for ya?

Go over the idealistic list of accomplishments I've just presented.  Are you missing a check box in any of them?  That would be a great place to start and ensure you've addressed all the big areas in your portfolio.

2.  Mind the Gap (between the data you input and the knowledge you extract)

Peter Drucker famously said “Work is easy. Just get the right information to the right people, at the right time.”  I don’t care how much you paid for your ERP software, there is a strong likelihood that there are areas where there would be huge benefits in better reporting, analytics, or BI tools.  No matter where you are, you will never be done in this area as long as you are the CIO.

3.  Never confuse motion with progress. Ensure you are doing the right things.

Being busy at the wrong things is as bad as doing nothing.  You are wasting the potential energy of your team.  This would be a good time to review your service catalog. Perhaps your team is busy on things that had an important reason a couple of years ago, but no longer are needed as things have changed.

4.  Define the future.

If you plan on staying on, then the five year plan you gave the hiring committee is almost ready to expire.  In any event, your five year plan is probably obsolete. Do you have the sequel ready?  Better yet, has your IT plan been fully integrated into your organization’s strategic plan?

5.  Is this the last stop? Planning a legacy.

Everybody has an end date.  Even you.

It doesn't matter if don't plan on leaving, you will still have to attend your farewell dinner at some point.

So what then?

Who takes your chair?

Believe it or not, this is as critical as almost anything else you do as CIO.  Who are you coaching / training / developing on your team?  Is there anyone who could take over for you?

What are the skills they need to develop?  How are they going to develop them?

If one or two names don’t immediately come to mind, then you’ve got some work to do.

There’s plenty of low-hanging fruit for a new CIO to deal with that have quick wins and very measurable results.  Developing the strategy for the second 4.1 years is the challenge.
If like me, you have decided to go for the ride… I wish you the best.


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