by Martin Veitch

Lessons from Juande Ramos, Damien Comolli and Tottenham Hotspur FC

Oct 26, 20082 mins
IT Leadership

It is widely acknowledged that, as Lincoln said, a house divided against itself cannot stand so when Tottenham Hotspur’s management structure finally caved in on Saturday night, the only question most of us had was ‘what took them so long?’

A sporting director who controls player transfer policy? A football manager who can’t even have a say in his squad? As seen before at Newcastle United and other clubs, this is madness and a recipe for failure and falling out.

It might not be stretching a point to say that there are lessons here for the CIO. Unless the CIO has a full say in budgeting and key decisions that affect IT then maybe it’s time to walk. I’ve heard of a few cases where certain outsourcing decisions have left the CIO outvoted, and of budgeting decisions that were presented by the CFO as done deals. Not good; not good at all.

On the other hand, CIOs can sometimes weaken their positions by lack of flexibility. It’s interesting that although more CIOs are being appointed in the UK than ever before, relatively few follow the US formula of also appointing a CTO to take responsibility for technology choices, in much the same way that top football managers appoint coaches to run day-to-day training. Perhaps they lack willingness to devolve or admit another IT department member into the C-suite room.

Of course, the football analogy can only stretch so far and the problem for the CIO is that if the worst happens and they get sacked for dire performance, there is no multi-million pound kiss-off. Which must leave them feeling as sick as a parrot.

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