The Next Step for the CIO

Has the sun finally set for the traditional CIO as we see him or her? Well the short answer is maybe. 


All you have to do is look back 10 years and you’ll find that the role has basically transformed, so it is not so hard to believe that it will do so again. With the onset of the Digital Age, we should really try to bring the CIO up to date.
Is it reasonable to consider the CIO in terms of a service rather that a person? Why not considering the CIO has been doing his/her utmost to translate everyone else’s job into a generic role and in turn to a generic set of services/components. The emergence of the service-based ICT organisation, together with the adoption of outsourcing and cloud, has facilitated this in the form of ‘ICT as a Service’.
So why not start by breaking down the service:



The next question is: can these services be delivered as a virtual service or set of services?

Established frameworks such as TOGAF, P3M3/Prince2, ISO/IEC, COBIT and ITIL/ITSM offer guidelines to codify Strategic Planning, Program Management, Risk Management, Governance and Technology Leadership. 
Organisation Design and Development are largely experiential with models and frameworks widely available. Stakeholder Management can also be imported as this is based around relationship management although the level of intimacy might be difficult to emulate.
It is also true that many CIOs already import many of these skills through the engagement of consultancies. This demonstrates that virtual capabilities may already be in place at an additional cost to the organisation. This is to some extent understandable as the CIO role has expanded exponentially over recent times.
It is worth considering what the potential constraints to setting up a virtual CIO arrangement are?
  1. Cost
    The likelihood is that the cost of not having a full time CIO can be more than offset with having a Virtual Substitute for 50% of their time.
  2. Loss of business intimacy 
    Whilst this is probably the hardest to replace, having best in class Strategic Planning and Architecture frameworks in place will enable the essence of the business to be modelled.
  3. Loss of accessibility (i.e. to strategic ICT adviceThis facility can be available ‘on tap’ with the added advantage of having multiple CIO substitutes available to consult.
  4. Loss of capability 
    As above, expect to extend capability by assembling the combined expertise of 3 or 4 Virtual CIOs.
There might be other constraints but these are most likely to be the most significant. In summary, the Virtual CIO service offers the potential advantage of being more cost effective, equally business intimate and substantially more accessible and capable.

To really step up to the Digital Age, it seems that the next logical step is to create the Digital CIO. This would require the ‘CIO as an Avatar’ to be created before teleporting him/her/it into the stratosphere – an area 10km to 50km above the Earth’s surface that has no Clouds.
About the Author
Tony Welsh – Associate Partner, Information Professionals
Tony has over 35 years’ experience as an ICT professional including 15 years in Chief Information Officer (CIO) roles. His particular skills include ICT and business strategic planning, program management, business and ICT alignment, stakeholder management. He is particularly valuable for organisations seeking to get more out of their ICT investments and/or to use ICT to transform their organisation. He has extensive experience in the management and design of ICT organisations.

Why I LOVE Linkedin.

It was a problem in search of a solution.   

Communication Breakdown.
For Project Managers, the problem ‘bubbles up’ at an awful moment of realisation.  The new technology the project is installing and which will rely on collaboration and information sharing to deliver business benefits – is incompatible with your client’s business culture.  How could it have come to this and what do you do?  Compartmentalise the problem by calling it ‘out of scope’ or tell your client the truth – that their business won’t get a ‘bang for their buck’ from their investment because the culture gap is just too big to cross.     
It was during one of those discussions among peers that a ‘cut through’ insight about the problem came from an Enterprise Architect. “Why can’t change and benefits be integrated into enterprise architecture before the project starts, and before the influence of silo thinking and competing mindsets takes hold?
The chain of ideas was continued by a Change Manager and an IT Benefits Manager.  “Of course, integrating enterprise architecture and benefits goals would have a deeper and more effective impact on project viability, and it makes a lot of sense to assess cultural compatibility well before the project starts”.   This led to a more focussed discussion within the broader peer group about what this approach to change would look like, how it would fit together, how it could reduce risk and whether we could be certain that the problem IT Project Managers agonize over – and which our group had spent the best part of a month talking about – could be eliminated.   This in turn led to a realisation that we should develop these ideas further.   And so this is what I found myself doing in my spare time, contributing towards developing a better and more viable approach to change management in a project environment.
Chain of Collaboration.
The discussion did not take place in a workshop or a business strategy meeting.  The Enterprise Architect was in Montreal, Canada, the Change Manager and the Benefits Manager were in Brisbane, Australia.  Other contributors and reviewers were from Canada, United States, South Africa and the Netherlands.  It happened in one of those virtual networking spaces that we are increasingly gravitating towards to meet peers, build networks and collaborate around common interests – the linkedingroup for change management practitioners.   
These collaborations are commonplace nowadays.  New communities, causes and peer groups are formed everyday because technology enables it.   The tools we have at our finger tips are cheap, quick and effective.  And we like the speed at which we can connect, review others work, give feedback on ideas and contribute to innovation.   What started out as a professional networking space has literally exploded into a place of marketplace of ideas, debate and opportunity.   
I started taking cautious steps in this world, which led to more experimentation from increased confidence.   Here you interact, share ideas and participate in two-way communication.  It takes a leap of faith to do this with people you’ve never met.  But my experiences so far have taught me that the bad’s co-exist with the good’s.  Communication takes a constant effort, misunderstandings are frequent and disengagement is frustrating.  Continued engagement is vital, because without it, people do not share information freely or offer up the ideas needed to drive new thinking about the problems and challenges we face as practitioners.  

After each interaction, I resolve to get better at virtual communication.   I like being part of this world and am relaxed about where collaboration leads.  I am also curious about what it takes to build a cohesive team in cyberspace, a team that is robust enough to work through its creative tension and build the trust needed to keep engaged as volunteers.  So I keep engaged – contribute, learn, extend my network and try different things – some work and some don’t.   But I know we are a team and I feel confident that our work will contribute something important to the body of change management knowledge.  

– Janet Crews Senior Consultant – Information Professionals

Janet is a storied, qualified, change management professional, with many years of both commercial and government based experience.
You can connect with or find out more about Janet on linkedin:

Tom Waterhouse – Change is a gamble.

Tom Waterhouse – Change is a gamble.

Now I am not a betting man and I am not defending Tom Waterhouse, but I was very interested to watch the public backlash against bookmaker Tom Waterhouse’s recent campaign to introduce his gambling services to TV sport. When his ads first appeared on TV I was very impressed with how he got his message across and how complete the campaign was. He pitched himself as one of us – he didn’t know how they hit a six, or how they took those big marks, or made those crunching tackles, but he knew what Aussies wanted – to bet on sport. 

Gambling seemed fresh and non-threatening. It was something even the kiddies could enjoy. And he was everywhere. It didn’t matter what sport we watched, there he was with new and innovative ways of betting. He would even give you back your money if you got some things wrong! Gambling must be fun. How could it be harmful in any way?
However, in a matter of a few short months it had become one of the biggest political issues in the country. The Prime Minister got involved and legislation was soon being drafted to stop Tom Waterhouse in his tracks. What went wrong? Change Management – that’s what went wrong. Or at least that’s what Tom Waterhouse did not do. 
He was changing the way people watched sport and interacted with gambling, and changing it in a big way. Tom Waterhouse was engaged in transformational change and he got it wrong. There are some lessons in this for us as business and information and management professionals. How do you accomplish transformational change and win the support of your stakeholders.
One of the main things Tom Waterhouse had to get right and any transformational leader must do is to build trust. What is trust? One good definition is that trust is the disposition of a person to make themselves vulnerable to another person without the expectation of being exploited. Associate Professor Ken Dovey of UTS says, “Trust combines an emotional expectation with a cognitive assessment about the predictability and reliability of another’s behaviour. Trust is mental model about how a particular relationship will work”. It is a basic human concept that must exist for effective collaboration and collaboration is how we get things done in an enterprise. By collaborating we transform creativity and learning into innovation. That is, we make change happen.
It seems also that as humans we are wired for trust in a biological sense. Professor Michael Kosfeld, in the Business Administration faculty at Frankfurt University, conducted experiments that showed when people interact the human brain releases oxytocin, which is a hormone that stimulates trust. In other words we want to trust each other in our work places. Professor Kosfeld says that “when trust is absent, we are, in a sense, dehumanised”.
Taken from a footy punters’ forum
So, how can we build trust? Firstly, we need to identify the stakeholders, the people we want to come on the journey of change with us. We especially need to find those people who have the trust of others already.
Secondly, we need to honour the rules of the organisation and its culture. Obviously, that includes the law itself, but there are also conventions and accepted rules of behaviour that should be followed.
Thirdly, respect should be shown for those who have different opinions and may not even agree with the change. If respect is shown to them, then respect can be won also. Accept that not everyone will agree with the change, however showing respect for those people will help to ensure that they do not work against the change and they may even support it because they have at least been shown respect and allowed to voice their concerns.
Finally, where there is conflict, be prepared to reconcile with those people, so as to break down barriers and to not isolate people. Remember that sometimes people react badly to change often out of genuinely good motives, such as, concern for the direction of the enterprise or for the welfare of colleagues. Perhaps they have reacted out of fear. Viewing these reactions as opportunities to find constructive criticism and address concerns that may be more widely held can turn negative reactions into increased confidence in the leadership. This in turn can lead to stronger bonds of trust.
Of course, there are many other things a transformational leader needs to pay attention to, however the building of trust is possibly the most important. Once trust is built then old ways of doing things can be challenged and new innovative practices can be introduced to our organisations. Leaders can then drive change by providing a vision that is based on the shared beliefs and values of members of the organisation.
Can Tom Waterhouse accomplish the same? It might be hard as he is dealing with the Australian sport viewing public, in effect, a very large and complex enterprise. He has already challenged the perceived rules of behaviour and borne the brunt of the reaction of breaking those rules and not building trust in the first place.

I’m not a betting man, but it will be interesting to watch as this story evolves.

* Article has been edited 22/08/2013 – Names were edited from Robbie to Tom Waterhouse to correct the original title and body copy errors. ala “Fine Cotton”

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Written By: Information Professionals Associate Partner – Tim Hosking 

Tim is a senior business and information architect with wide experience in the private and public sector. His private sector experience is almost entirely in the finance sector, including Bankers Trust, Commonwealth Bank, Sydney Futures Exchange, Commercial Union (now part of CGU), and National Mutual Life Assocation (now Axa). His public sector experience has been with NSW Police Force, Police Integrity Commission, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Tim has completed the ITMP program at UTS – Master of Business (IT Management) with special focus on research into enterprise architecture.

Project Manager…or are you?

As management practitioners of all things ICT and business change, us IPers read with note recently that the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) recently held their annual ball, and that it was a masquerade ball.

Now all sorts of thoughts ran through our mind about this..and the funny puns we could make.  Then came the reality of playing this out on social media and the dangers involved in misfiring jokes.  So as management consulting types, what did we do. Well we talked about it.  And after a quick debate we thought we could make some comments, but they had to be good taste and they should not be personal in any way.  Certainly we had to be thoughtful and responsible citizens on social media.

Recent news has highlighted many reasons to stay away from social media, particularly if your name happens to be Jones, Gillard or Abbott, and the last thing we wanted to do was open up a can of worms that we couldn’t close.  But we also know that social media isn’t going away, and every opportunity like this is an opportunity to test the waters of what we could and could not say, and be lively vibrant members of the communities we are involved in.

At the same time, we are very fond of our Project Manager sole mates, in fact we have many of them among us.  I even count myself amongst this crowd, presenting to the AIPM Queensland State Conference last month.  And as we are fond of them, then the brotherly and Aussie thing to do is to reflect that love with a joke or two.  Besides, if the comedy, “Big Bang Theory” can be tastefully funny, rejoicing the diversity of professional life, and do so in a way that is non offensive then isn’t it worth a try?

The question then became, what kind of jokes.  How can we be tastefully funny, non-personal and avoid the cans of worms?  After all, social media seems to have increased the available cans of worms which can be easily and unknowingly opened.

We had a nice repertoire of one liners ready, just perfect for a bunch of Project Managers dressing up in masquerade!  Lines like:

  • I think they should have used a risk avoidance rather than risk mitigation strategy on that outfit; or
  • I doubt they got change control approval from their wife/husband on that dress; or
  • I don’t know whether he has realised he has moved from risk management to issue management as soon as he stepped into the ballroom tonight; or
  • The way she is dressed there could be any number of successor relationships lining up on her schedule tonight

But in the end, we became too concerned about causing offence to anyone .  We gave up.  We have the brain power of multiple CIOs, CFOs and more serious management grunt than many ICT shops in Australia could poke a stick at, but we took the easy way out.  Yes, the risk of social media is a tough battle ground.

This is very much unlike the PMs.  They may have debated the moral hazard of wearing masquerade.  But their own unique style of being PMs allowed them to deal with such matters as being irrelevant.  They were focused, just as PMs can be, on one thing, and that is on having fun, completely oblivious to the world around them.

And good on them for that.  Stand proud PMs, stand proud!

Mark Nicholls.
Managing Director, Information Professionals. 
Mark is one of Australia’s most trusted IT & Change Management advisors. He also has other entrepreneurial business interests that he operates through MaidenVoyages.

Economic Downturn: Who’s walking and who’s wounded…early views

It maybe too early to ‘post mortem’ the spate of job losses over the past few months, especially since it is not clear whether we’ve ‘hit bottom’ but it is possible to discern some general trends. Chief among these is the perception that ‘Generation Y’ (generally considered to be those born in the 1980’s and 1990’s) is going to have a tougher time than most.

A recent survey, conducted by the Young Emerging Professionals Initiative (YEP) of Spectrum Knowledge and the University of California Fullerton, showed that the Boomer and X generations have some very negative perceptions about the performance of Y’s in the workplace. These include:


    • Members of Generation Y are looking for instant gratification and therefore struggle to stick with projects over the long term.


    • Members of Generation Y feel entitled to job benefits that they have not yet earned.


  • Members of Generation Y are unwilling to ‘pay their dues’ in the workplace
    (The full text of the ‘Gen Y Perceptions Study’ can be downloaded here)


It should be stressed that these points are perceptions and that most Generation Y workers would probably disagree. However, perceptions can create realities and we are starting to see something that is looking suspiciously like revenge!

Several Australian newspapers are reporting that Y’s are being targeted for redundancy ahead of their Boomer and X’er counterparts. It is difficult to determine, beyond anecdotal evidence, whether this is really the case but it does raise interesting issues about how perceptions can actually have ‘real life’ consequences in the workplace. It is clear that at least some managers are thinking about using the current uncertainty to have a go at Generation Y’s perceived lack of commitment and loyalty. This is clearly borne out in the some of the articles discussing the issue. Business Day minces no words with its headline “Less Loyal gen Ys in firing line!” An interviewee in The Australian weighs in with: “…an employer isn’t going to make a commitment to you in tough times if you weren’t prepared to make a commitment to the employer in good times.”

The trend (if it is indeed what it is) towards the reaffirmation of ‘traditional’ business values could have interesting implications in the field of change management. This also raises questions regarding recruitment practices, and workforce planning. It is perhaps up to every manager to decide whether this is a good thing, but it seems that the move towards the much heralded ‘Brave New World of Business’ supposedly spearheaded by Generation Y is not going to happen without at least some resistance.


Perhaps that new office design with the beanbags and foosball table should go on hold…at least for this quarter!