The story so far: Jim Barton, the head of loan operations for financial services company \n\nIVK, has been tapped as the CIO by the company's new CEO, Carl Williams. The previous CIO \n\nhas been fired, and Barton must restore Williams's confidence in IT while he learns on the \n\njob. In his previous role, Barton had argued against a security upgrade. After an apparent \n\ndata breach that may have compromised customer information, Barton has narrowly escaped \n\nbeing fired. And his IT department is under extra scrutiny by the company's leadership team. \n\n Read the first, second and third installment.\nMore on CIO.com\nBook Excerpt: The Adventures of an IT Leader, Part 1\n\nBook Excerpt: The Adventures of an IT Leader, Part 2\n\nBook Excerpt: The Adventures of an IT Leader, Part 3\n\nWednesday, August 8, 9:38 a.m....\n\nJim Barton slammed his office door and slapped a notepad hard onto the desk. "Why," he asked \n\nof no one in particular, "does every interaction with those guys have to be like a trip to \n\nthe dentist?"\n\nThe leadership team meeting had just broken up. Much of it had to do with IT. Most of that \n\nhad amounted to listening to people complain. Since the security event in June, people \n\nseemed less willing to assume that Barton and the IT group were doing things for good \n\nreasons.\n\nHe needed to turn his attention to the final item that had come up in the meeting: Web 2.0. Bernie Ruben, director of the IT department's Technical \n\nServices Group, had forwarded him an e-mail on the subject a couple of days before.\n\nBarton located Ruben's e-mail and clicked on the attachment. He found his way to the bottom \n\nof the report, which listed some of the people within IVK who were participating in the \n\nso-called "Web 2.0 revolution." Some items in the list were links to blogs. Barton clicked \n\non one and found himself reading about one guy's experiences working in the customer support \n\ncenter at IVK.\n\nTo his dismay, there was a description of a day when the systems at IVK went down. The \n\nauthor even speculated, jokingly, about the cause of the outage; his lighthearted list \n\nincluded viruses and hackers.\n\n"You've got to be kidding!" Barton cried out before he stood and went storming down the hall \n\nin search of answers.\n\nTuesday, August 14, 11:35 a.m....\n\n"Three questions," said Ruben. "One: What should we do about this blog entry?"\n\n"Nothing," said Raj Juvvani, director of customer support and collection systems.\n\nRuben nodded and continued: "Two: What should be our policy about blogging on inside \n\ninformation from within the company?"\n\n"Tons of implications here: legal, protecting proprietary info and more," said Tyra Gordon, \n\ndirector of loan operations and new application development.\n\nRuben, still nodding, continued: "Three: What should be our process for spotting emerging \n\ntechnologies and seeing how they might be relevant to us?"\n\nBarton spoke: "My first inclination would be to put in place a rather restrictive policy on \n\nblogging. That's what Williams would say.\n\n"Have you discussed it with Williams?" braved Gordon.\n\nI can barely get him to meet with me, thought Barton. He said: "If he learned that there was \n\na description on the Web of the outage we experienced, he'd probably fire all of us."\n\nPaul Fenton director of infrastructure and operations, spoke up: "A lot of this Web 2.0 \n\nstuff can come to companies whether they like it or not. Ask Nintendo. When the wrist strap on the company's gaming remote turned out to be underengineered, movies \n\nof TVs obliterated by flying remotes started showing up all over the Web."\n\n"Can you write up a few of those examples?" said Barton. "I'll use them as a basis for \n\nraising this issue with Williams."\n\nJuvvani interjected: "When you take these issues to Williams, I want us to be sure that Web \n\n2.0 technologies don't come out looking like the enemy. There's serious business potential \n\nin this area."\n\nWednesday, February 20, 11:10 a.m....\n\nBarton sat back in the blue chair at CEO Carl Williams's office table. The relationship \n\nbetween the two had been better since the first of the year, for reasons Barton didn't \n\ncompletely understand.\n\nThe time had come to decide what to spend on some major upgrades. All involved \n\ncost-versus-risk trade-offs. Only the CEO could decide how much risk was \n\nreasonable to bear, but Barton had been unsure he'd get the help from Williams that he \n\nneeded.\n\nAbout ten minutes into the meeting, as Barton explained that things could still go wrong no \n\nmatter how skillfully they deployed prevention measures, Williams started talking about \n\npoker.\n\n"Sure, I get it," he said. "Even when you've got a strong hand, things can go against you. \n\nThe flip side is also true. Sometimes you make a questionable decision and things turn out \n\nokay. Like they did for us after the hacker attack. Occasionally you win by counting on \n\nluck."\n\n"But not too often, I guess," Barton said, surprising himself.\n\nWilliams laughed. "Exactly right!" Then, to Barton's delight, the poker game analogy grew \n\ninto a larger frame for the conversation about risk.\n\n"So, Carl, that is a great context for the decisions we need to make. Our highest priorities \n\nare risks that are likely and can generate big costs. We can decide not to do the things \n\nthat generate those risks or we can decide to take the risk and invest in mitigating it.\n\nBarton handed Williams a thin binder and they dived into discussion of specific project \n\nproposals.\n\nAt one point Williams hit Barton with a stunner\u2014a remark made in passing without \n\nfurther elaboration: "You know, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if you turned out to be the \n\nnext CEO of this company. I won't be here forever, you know."\n\nBarton had no idea how much stock to place in this remark. All Barton could do was his job, \n\ntrying to make the IT department, and IVK, as ready as possible for whatever might happen.\n\nEND OF SERIES\n\nExcerpted from The Adventures of an IT Leader by Robert D. Austin, \n\nRichard L. Nolan and Shannon O'Donnell, Harvard Business Press, April 2009. Austin is a \n\nprofessor at Copenhagen Business School and an associate professor (on leave) at Harvard \n\nBusiness School. Nolan is a professor at the Foster School of Business at the University of \n\nWashington, Seattle, and a professor emeritus at Harvard Business School. O'Donnell is a PhD \n\nfellow at Copenhagen Business School and a former director and dramaturg at People's Light \n\nand Theatre in Philadelphia.