The New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals are all beginning the 2018-2019 NFL season with new coaches. These changes are not unusual. Similar changes have occurred over the past several years. On average, roughly one-quarter of the coaches in the National Football League (NFL) are replaced every season.\u00a0\nA Business Insider analysis conducted during the midpoint of the 2016-2017 season determined that the average job tenure of NFL coaches was 4.3 years. Coincidentally, Korn Ferry \u2013 the esteemed executive recruiting firm \u2013 conducted a tenure study for CIOs last year. They determined that the average job tenure of a CIO was 4.3 years, exactly the same as an NFL coach!\nThere are many reasons why NFL coaches and CIOs leave their positions but on-the-job performance is clearly a major, if not the driving factor in many such moves. At least CIOs are afforded some measure of corporate courtesy in the way their departures are publicly announced. Announcements that typically accompany the departure of a CIO allude to their desires to \u201cpursue other interests\u201d or \u201cspend more time with their families.\u201d Both are laudable sentiments but usually untrue. In most instances the CIO has been politely invited to leave.\nIn contrast, the reasons surrounding the departures of NFL coaches are publicly dissected in excruciating, repetitive detail by TV commentators, radio show hosts, podcast authors and tweeting fans.\u00a0 CIOs can at least take some solace in the fact that they\u2019re not subjected to a public review of their on-the-job performance before and after their departures.\nIn light of the equality between the job tenure of NFL coaches and CIOs, it\u2019s logical to ask if CIOs could improve their own job security by paying a little more attention to the factors that lead to the departure of an NFL coach.\nWhy do NFL coaches get fired?\nThe simple answer is because they don\u2019t win enough games. But the real question is why can\u2019t they achieve winning records and why can\u2019t they get their teams to the playoffs? You don\u2019t have to go much further than sports talk radio to identify some of the primary reasons.\nFailure to recruit, develop and manage talent\nIf you think we have talent wars in IT, just think about the NFL! In theory, coaches should work closely with their team\u2019s General Manager (GM) in identifying and resolving their talent needs. In reality, they don\u2019t get to make final talent decisions because they don\u2019t control the team\u2019s payroll. They\u2019re forced to accept the talent they\u2019re given and improve it through instruction, practice and gameday experience.\u00a0\nFailure to innovate and react to change\nMajor league football is a very sophisticated sport. Customized nutrition and strength training programs are developed for individual players. Playbooks are constantly being revised and updated to catch opponents off guard. Video analytics are used to dissect player tendencies and improve the effectiveness of a player\u2019s stance, hand movements, footwork, head movement, etc. Strategic innovation occurs at the beginning of every season as the coaching team updates their team\u2019s playbook. Tactical innovation is equally important in scripting plays for individual games. Sticking with one set of plays and players throughout a season is usually a prescription for disaster.\nFailure to intervene when things start going wrong\nNFL coaches are frequently compared to the CEOs of large complex organizations. They rely on key members of their management team \u2013 their offensive and defensive coordinators and their skill coaches \u2013 to be successful. In most instances, they discipline themselves to avoid micromanagement of day-to-day details. That\u2019s all well and good until you realize there\u2019re only 16 games in an NFL season. You can\u2019t wait until the middle of the season to start making changes if on-the-field performance issues are becoming glaringly obvious.\nFailure to develop effective relationships with business leaders\nIn reality, NFL coaches are not CEOs. The team\u2019s owner is the CEO. The GM is the team\u2019s CFO or COO. The pages of sports history are replete with examples of situations in which a coach never established effective working relationships with a team\u2019s owner or GM. (Remember Al Davis?) Even in situations where a team wins consistently year-over-year, an owner will use the excuse of not winning a Division title or a Super Bowl ring for getting rid of a coach he just doesn\u2019t like or trust.\nLessons for a CIO\nDoes any of the above sound vaguely familiar?!?! The job tenure of most CIOs is a direct outcome of the same factors discussed above. CIOs may get to inject some \u2018new blood\u2019 into their organizations but they largely inherit the members of their team. Skill development in all the critical aspects of IT\u2019s \u201cgame\u201d \u2013 applications, infrastructure, data warehousing and program management \u2013 is essential for long term success.\u00a0\nThe ability to innovate is critical as well. Not just to bring in new technology but to improve IT\u2019s internal work practices, assist business partners in re-engineering critical business processes and continually enhancing the reliability and responsiveness of the overall IT organization.\u00a0\nCIOs need to distance themselves from the routine operations of their teams. Quite frankly, they typically lack the technical knowledge or bandwidth to become involved in specific projects or activities.\u00a0 However, a seasoned CIO has an acute ability to sense incipient performance issues and should be able to ask the penetrating questions that will galvanize actions by others. Their mere attention to an area of substandard performance will trigger action.\nFinally, all CIOs know that they serve at the pleasure of their CEOs and that the CEO is typically influenced by a small inner circle of key associates. Failure to develop relationships with the CEO and his confidants is highly dangerous.\nCareer counseling suggestion\nThe coaches of the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all had losing records last season. Although their contracts were extended or maintained for the upcoming 2018-2019 season they\u2019re probably living on borrowed time.\u00a0 CIOs seeking ways of extending their own job security might be well-advised to spend a little more time listening to ESPN during the next few months and ask themselves if they\u2019re committing any of the same mistakes plaguing the leaders of these losing NFL teams; and, if so, what corrective actions they need to take to beat the 4.3 year average!