CIOs: Stay in Your Lane or Cross the Lines?

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

A little while ago, I overheard a CFO chatting with a VP peer about how he wished the CIO would learn to “stay in her lane.” This CFO wanted the CIO to just keep to technology and software and not cross over silo lines.

Yet isn’t the CIO supposed to provide the information, infrastructure, technology and systems the organization needs to leverage its ability to do business, compete, grow and prosper?

If that is the case, then isn’t the lane of the CIO really organization wide? How many times have surveys shown that CEOs expect CIOs to be business savvy professionals that take the time to learn about and develop a fundamental understanding of each operating unit’s information requirements so they can be an informed partner with their other C-suite peers?

The CFO’s disconnect with the CIO appeared to be clear. Perhaps the CIO wasn’t polished enough in her collaboration skills needed to properly work with others, so that they didn’t appear to be a “know-it-all.” Or, perhaps the CFO was a tad intimidated by the notion that the CIO not only knew and understood IT, but also had a strong foundation in financial management—while the CFO had little or no understanding of IT. Maybe it was a bit of both.

The point is this: CIOs need to be cautious not to appear to be competing with their C-suite peers in those …


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