As we all know, the CIO acronym stands for Chief Information Officer….but do we really know what the ‘Officer” means? Do we really have CIO’s?
In most organizations, there’s a CIO who’s heading up IT…but are they really an ‘Officer’ of the company? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘Officer” to be:
one who holds an office of trust, authority, or command
So…the CIO is an officer of the company and holds a position of trust and authority.
But do CIO’s really step into that role?
I’m sure some do…perhaps many do…but I’ve run across quite a few who’ve completley misunderstood the role and their “officer” responsibility
The “O” in CIO is not silent. It stands for officer. Corporate officers are the people with day-to-day responsibility for running the corporation, such as the chief executive, chief financial officer, the treasurer and, yes, the CIO. For years CIO’s struggled to get a seat “at the table” and it pains me greatly to see cases where CIOs reach this level and, instead of rising to the occasion to serve as business leaders, revert to the geek role. I hope this is uncommon but I fear that it is not.
Earlier in his post, Joel describes a meeting that he attended with all the officers of the company. In that meeting, all the officers of the company were present and discussing strategic plans. The CIO was there along with the CEO, CFO, COO, etc etc. Awesome…the CIO had a seat at the table!
But…what was the CIO doing? Joel writes:
…the CIO who showed up with his laptop and, while the rest of us debated various strategic alternatives and explored opportunities to grow and diversify this $100 million + business, apparently spent the entire day answering e-mail and responding to instant messages. In fact, his only comments the entire day were some negative remarks about one of the company’s strategic business partners.
Think back to your meetings…have you spent the meeting being engaged did you spend it buried in your laptop or smartphone responding to some ‘crisis’?
My personal experience with CIO’s and other senior level IT leaders mirrors that of Joel…while in meetings, they spend a good deal of their time reacting to issues outside of the meeting rather than being present and providing leadership.
CIO’s and IT have been fighting for years to get ‘a seat at the table’….so why not take that seat and run with it? Be present…be valuable.
As Joel says…if you get the seat at the table, BE AT THE TABLE. Be present. Be available and be real. Don’t hide behind your computer or smartphone…provide leadership and actually be an ‘officer’ of the company. Get your head out of the technology for at least a few minutes and focus on the business.
Image Credit: O – glowing By Eva the Weaver on flickr