by Michael Friedenberg

Three Great Reads for CIOs

Jan 28, 2011

Michael Friedenberg, President and CEO of IDG Enterprise, offers his latest book recommendations for CIOs.

Here at CIO’s Boston-area headquarters, the dead of winter gets frosty enough to make you want to sit by the fire with a great book, or perhaps an e-book downloaded to your Kindle, iPad or tablet PC. I did that recently with these three very different books and can highly recommend them all as great reads for any CIO.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath. What I liked most about this book was its unique, thought-provoking approach to driving change rather than just dealing with it. There are tons of books on managing change, but precious few about how to make it happen. Switch focuses on how and why human beings are driven to transformative change in their behaviors and beliefs—not just in business roles, but in their communities and personal lives as well. This how-to guide will help you understand and appreciate the rational and emotional parts of the mind, and learn how aligning the two can spark dramatic change.

The Last Lion, by William Manchester. This biography of Winston Churchill is an amazing story of a complex man who was driven, brilliant and flawed. Manchester dissects the legendary British prime minister’s accomplishments while examining some of his remarkable failures. I loved this quote from his friend F.E. Smith: “Winston was often right, but when he was wrong, well, my God.” This fine mix of history, storytelling and sheer drama gives you an intimate look at the man who so famously said, “Never give in. Never, never, never, never give in.”

The CIO Edge: Seven Leadership Skills You Need to Drive Results, by Graham Waller, George Hallenbeck and Karen Rubenstrunk. I am not recommending this book just because it has “CIO” in the title! As CIO reports on the evolving role of the CIO, this fast-paced, enjoyable book dives headfirst into the key strengths that highly effective CIOs possess, such as an ability to inspire others and to demonstrate that you value their ideas. The authors layer Gartner research with interviews from CIOs to capture the skills necessary to thrive in this challenging role. It will give you plenty to think about and some good ideas to act on. (For more about this book, see “7 Essential CIO Leadership Skills That Get Results.”)

So there you have it, a few ideas for bolstering your bookshelf. I’d love to hear your recommendations as well. In between issues of this magazine, I am always looking for my next great read.

Michael Friedenberg is the president and CEO of CIO magazine’s parent company, IDG Enterprise. E-mail him at