The CIO as Chief Instigation Officer

In the quest for IT to be recognised as a completely integrated business function the CIO is increasingly being advised to dress, talk and walk the walk of business whilst at the same time driving the technology services that underpin the modern corporation. Here follows a very personal view of one of the many qualities needed to deliver this complex and mutating ‘job’.

Instigate: To goad or urge forward; to set on; to provoke; to incite.

A CIO from any background whether it is business or pure technology will have been an ace project manager at some point in their career. This isn’t about technologies or methodologies, just simple straightforward end-to-end delivery of well managed projects.

The great CIO as Chief Instigator is the one who not only knows how to manage them but also how to begin them. To sow the seeds of good ideas into the context of the overarching business strategy.  It isn’t about massive scale or mega projects alone, it could be nothing more grandiose than picking up on an issue and realising it could be fixed. Seeing the pieces of the puzzle and making them fit. As Plato observed, ‘beginnings are the most important part of the work’.

Noticing, for example, that the receptionists are being driven wild by a particularly strident ring tone they don’t know how to change. Picking up on the fact that the poor devil who handles expense claims in Finance spends endless hours in Excel wrestling with a spreadsheet designed 10 years ago by an enthusiastic accountant, long since departed to pursue his hobby elsewhere.

Sweating the small stuff not only demonstrates you care (builds trust) and know your business (builds respect) but also has a tendency to deliver consequence way beyond the niggle you just caused to be fixed. It creates a very visible can do attitude in IT staff and will undoubtedly expose deeper seated issues that have been kept hidden in the IT and business attic; the mad uncle no-one wants to acknowledge but who casts a long shadow. The Instigator relishes this opportunity to effect and begin BIG change.

The Instigator can and will act as a catalyst within any unit, division or country because IT is the only function in many businesses that spans and knows the whole model intimately, thus, they are ideally situated and suited to instigate and architect, then deliver.

The Instigator knows that beginnings lay spark to the fire of entrepreneurial genius with which technology endows 21st Century commerce.

“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting.” Buddha

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