Vijay is an award-winning journalist and a member of the start-up team that launched the Indian operations of the world’s largest technology media organization. He helps strategically guide the publications, websites and events of IDG Media.
Yet, I wonder isn’t a CIO’s role always about gray shades rather than the black and white?
People who do not succeed, seldom find failure.
However, those who experience many successes,
Shall experience many failures.
You must understand this truth of the Middle Way.
Many moons ago in the pages of this magazine, author provocateur Michael Schrage ruffled many feathers by suggesting that “CIOs should stop trying to do the ‘right thing’ when implementing IT and focus instead on getting their implementations right.”
Schrage insisted that a CIO’s loyalty lay with the project and not with either the organization supporting the project or the people working on its execution. One of the scenarios Schrage raised involved deliberately withholding important information from the CEO if you knew that its disclosure would provoke a counter productive intervention in an important project.
Yet, I wonder isn’t a CIO’s role always about gray shades rather than the black and white? Aren’t you expected to be both a force of control and an agent of change? Aren’t you required to deliver results and yet not upset your colleagues? Doesn’t your CEO expect you to render honest feedback, while not being offensive? How do you make IT predictable while keeping business agile? How do you focus on flawless execution while formulating strategy?
I don’t see either ethical or moral issues at play here. I believe that these are lesser contradictions than a recognition of the CIO as a practitioner of the realpolitik that organizations represent. What do you really owe your CEO? The facts or the truth or merely results? Your response will hold clues to the directions your career, your role and your department is going to take.
R. Gopalakrishnan, Director, Tata Sons, while launching his book, What the CEO Really Wants From You, recently said: “To treat your CEO like a boss is incorrect. He is and will be your customer. And, thus like all customers is imperfect—he may not always recognize what he wants and when he decides on a course of action he might often change his mind equally quickly. The trick is to be able to deliver results, build lines of communication, never forget your core values, while being able to disagree, without being disagreeable.”