Over the years I’ve met a lot of IT leaders. I like to network, to find out what others are doing, to keep my knowledge of the market up to date. I’d far rather find out what mistakes others have made before I blunder into the same traps, and happily share my own triumphs and failures for the same reason.
There are many different kinds of men and women (a growing but still disappointingly small number, so I’ll stick to the male pronoun) in these roles but the Angry CIO is always somewhere to be found.
The Angry CIO is frustrated by ‘the business’. They don’t understand his challenges. They aren’t ‘mature’ as an organisation, like the IT team is. They don’t see the business opportunities/risks as he does, having his unique view across the organisation. If, and it’s a big if, he is on the board, nobody takes any notice of what he says, and IT is always squeezed right to the bottom of the agenda. This guy is not a happy man.
We’ve all had these frustrations, of course. It’s easy to get caught up in them, and feel that you’re powerless to change the situation. If you spend time listening to the likes of Gartner they can often make the situation worse. They’ll tell you that you’ve got to get more influence, or chuckle that the IT team has far greater maturity than the rest of the business, or scare you with stories that the marketing team will have more tech budget than IT.
If you suspect you might be an Angry CIO, try to take a step back. What does it feel like to be a customer at your door? What do the rest of the board see when they look down the table at you? Are you gazing with silent pity at the morons that didn’t approve your infrastructure upgrade, and that don’t understand the difference between IaaS and PaaS no matter how many times you explain it? Have you actually said ‘the business isn’t mature enough’ to the board? (Yes? They’re hiring your replacement.) If so, maybe that’s the reason people stopped asking for your opinion. Maybe that’s the reason they bought that mobile app in marketing without considering the information security issues. Maybe that’s the reason they’ve invited you along to meet a man from a software company that they’ve already committed to an order with.
Somehow, the Angry CIO has got to become the Friendly CIO. The Patient CIO. The Forgiving CIO. People will always do things that are less than optimal, people will always have emergencies and jump to a poor solution. It’s up to IT teams to pick them up, work with them and get them to where they need to be, and if we can’t get them where they need to be, at least get them to where they want to be. Yes, we know they’re not the same thing. But sometimes that’s just the way it is.