"There's no such thing as too fast." Does that sound like a CIO to you? Didn't think so.The business world views CIOs as more tortoise than hare, as leaders of the slow-and-steady IT crowd. The designated drivers, making sure the sales and marketing guys get home safely.Well, time to rethink that stereotype. As you read this CIO 100 awards issue, you'll see what I mean. Each year we spot certain trends among these winning projects. Last year, it was about responding to potential business risk. This time, it was the need for speed."Think of it as the business equivalent of breaking the space-time continuum," writes Managing Editor Kim S. Nash in our cover story ("Top CIOs Use IT to Speed Up the Business"). "Significantly increase your speed, and you can reach new, possibly more profitable realms ahead of competitors.""Speed is a game-changer," agrees CIO Stuart Kippelman of Covanta Energy, the author of that opening quote. His award-winning project turned a painfully slow customer contracting process into a model of profitable, responsive service.In writing this story, Nash talked at length with several award winners, looking for insights into how they got smart about getting fast. She found a lot of thought-provoking advice to pass along on topics such as speeding up internal IT practices and moving briskly around innovation obstacles.Our CIO 100 awards program is in its 26th year of honoring IT innovation and business value delivery, and the laurels are given to IT organizations, not individuals. We rely on more than 40 outside judges from industry and academia, who (bless their stamina) read and score 350-400 applications. Most of those applications describe good-to-great IT projects, but the final 100 are great-to-outstanding. They deliver the kind of transformative business impact that inspires us all.In many cases, there was more than a little professional risk for the CIOs who championed these winning projects. "When I look back now, I'm surprised I had the courage to stand behind this," admitted one of our CIO 100 winners from the financial services industry. "What we did was a whole core systems change, going from old client\/server to cloud-hosted, end-to-end. If I had picked wrong, I wouldn't be here today."That thought probably crossed many a mind among our CIO 100 project leaders this year, but the need for speed trumped the constraints of caution. Congratulations to you all.Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn.