Everyone\u2019s afraid. You can\u2019t read an article, watch a news broadcast or speak to another human being without tasting the fear. We all may agree that we\u2019d be stupid not to be cautious, but smart leaders are working to mitigate fear and move their organizations forward.\n \n Gone are the days of planning a three-year project and hiring 100 people to support it on day one. But are multiyear project initiatives also a thing of the past? The threat of a double-dip recession is prompting such discussions. But Michelle Garvey, CIO of Warnaco, a global apparel distributor, is one leader not buying into that chatter. She views phased implementations as a proven way to mitigate risk and manage fear, and thinks CIOs should be them doing more often, not less.\n \n \u201cWe have a complex business that we manage across multiple geographies, channels and brands,\u201d she says. \u201cWhile we have plenty of projects with short time horizons, we are definitely continuing multiyear initiatives\u2014mostly in the supply chain, retail and business intelligence areas.\u201d\n \n Garvey says that in this market you need \u201ca bigger shift to phased implementations that carry pay-as-you-go benefits to fund the next phase with proven results.\u201d Incremental improvements are key to achieving the longer-term plan, but Garvey made it clear that CIOs must have \u201ca laser-like focus on initiatives that add value within the planning horizon.\u201d\n \n Robert Juliano, CIO of Brandywine Realty Trust, concurs. \u201cWe continue to have and execute a multiyear strategic plan. IT investments are the best answer in a do-more-with-less business world. Good IT is a lever to amplify strengths, and there\u2019s never been a more important time to be an effective strength multiplier for your company.\u201d\n You Can\u2019t Save Your Way to SuccessNo one is saying you should go all in on hiring, but you do need to get creative and keep moving forward. \u201cWe\u2019re hiring, but very strategically,\u201d Garvey explains. \u201cWe don\u2019t always replace departing people, sometimes we reorganize to better match upcoming needs, but we do hire new positions for key skill sets that we need and to support our growth globally.\u201d\n \n \n \n Juliano pays attention and works to maximize each hire. \u201cWe upgraded a Web development role as part of hiring a backfill,\u201d he says. \u201cWith the increased focus on data access and on digital marketing, the Web development role has become increasingly important.\u201d Juliano says Brandywine has also selectively outsourced and augmented staffing to speed time to market or to free core team resources to concentrate on strategic objectives.\n \n Greg Flay, CIO at Green Mountain Energy, is in the middle of a multiyear implementation of a customer management and billing platform capable of supporting rapid enterprisewide growth. He says his company is continually assessing its capabilities to ensure it has the right mix of internal employees and outsourced resources to support development. \u201cAs a result, this year we have both hired new employees and reassigned existing employees to key positions in the new IT organization in the areas of project management, enterprise architecture, and operations management.\u201d \n \n To Flay, working fearlessly is mission critical for today\u2019s CIO. \u201cThe bottom line is that a CIO that is not helping the rest of senior management lead the battle against market competition is a CIO waiting for his or her company to die,\u201d he says. \u201cThat should be the scariest outcome of all.\u201d\n \n Ask yourself: Would you be hiring right now if you weren\u2019t so afraid? CIOs need to keep the long term in focus while managing projects using today\u2019s information\u2014no small feat. But no one has any definite answers, so take what you do know and decide what you\u2019re going to do.\n \n Kristen Lamoreaux is president and CEO of Lamoreaux Search, which focuses on finding IT professionals for hiring managers.