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Three signs that you need to fire your CIO

Deloitte on Cloud Blog

The move to cloud can expose weaknesses in your technology leadership team. Do any of these examples sound familiar?

June 11, 2019

It’s rumored that the cloud has caused many a CIO to resign or be fired. Why? In my view, the cloud is the latest technology to expose the flawed thinking of some CIOs. It’s not just the old school CIOs who are resistant to hand operations over to the public cloud who become cloud causalities. CIOs who are too eager to embrace “the next big thing” can also find themselves out of a job.

It’s a matter of leadership to balance what’s trendy with what’s right. To that end, here are some key signs that indicate that your CIO may need to be shown the door.

Tactical blinders. CIOs should focus on the vision of the company and their ability to support that vision with technology solutions, both now and in the future. The CIO may have to go if they focus too much on individual trees and don’t step back to look at the forest. Their basic cloud strategy of a CIO wearing tactical blinders is to move from one application to the next with little thought dedicated to common cloud services, valuable delivery, and functional agility. That type of strategy will end with cumbersome cloud complexity, non-functional systems, and a negative value from the investment in technology.

On trend, out of fashion. I used to call this type of CIO “manage by magazine” people. They love tech hype. As a result, they build systems using technology that is either the wrong fit, or it quickly goes out of style. You probably know or have met a few of these leaders. They repeat the tech press in meetings and are almost always the first movers. The trends are often more important than the desired business results. When the tech is cloud-related, the result is more complexity, less value, and a list of project failures. Someone who always wants to be a pioneer without a plan or road map is rarely someone who will arrive unscathed at the destination.

Kick the can. At the other end of the spectrum are those leaders who don’t want to try anything new. The status quo is their best friend and “no” is an automatic response. They are often experts in the way things are but have little or no vision as to how things could be. As a result, they miss the trends that could add value when correctly applied, such as the cloud, new security models, and new governance models. A CIO who just kicks the can down the road for someone else to deal with someday is another extreme that may signal the need for a change in leadership.

I agree that CIOs should focus on the future and the enterprise’s ability to leverage new technology as a force multiplier for the business. But I also believe that it’s okay to be a devil’s advocate when it comes to any new technology, keeping mind that we’ve been burned in the past by some tech trends.

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