Executive Suite: Follow this 10-step program for success

Mimi Browning

Is it 2003 already? The New Year is an important time for CIOs and their staffs to refresh and rewire. Consider these 10 resolutions'some classic, some new'and plan for your most successful year ever.

  • Learn to love requirements. As you build systems and capabilities, focus on the what and not the how'that is, the requirements and not the technical details. Get out of your ivory tower and help define the problem, frame the vision, develop the goals and work out the completion schedules. Implement using metrics and ruthless pragmatism.

  • Produce immediate results. It is important to demonstrate your organizational value and IT agility with some quick wins. Give top management and your most important customers some meaty bones in six to nine months. Use the premier management skills expected of you, such as listening, customer focus, collaboration, on-time project completion and sharing the glory.

  • Develop a high-performing work force. Set professional growth plans for the technicians and the next generation of senior technology executives. Rules and regulations aren't really roadblocks, but lack of organizational will to spend money on people for education, training and rewards are. Be flexible on work hours and dress codes. Recognize all and reward high performers.

  • Kill 20 percent of your legacy systems. This is a must-do stretch goal. Be ruthless with the Darwinian losers in your systems portfolio. Don't forget: With the savings from retired systems, you can fund the pioneer applications the top bosses want. How many are still upset, much less remember, the systems you killed for year 2000?

  • Be a trusted strategist. Your goal is to be as influential and as indispensable as the organization's chief financial officer, who, by the way, should be your best buddy. Demonstrate that you are a trustworthy and seasoned player in every forum by making the business case to the technical people and vice versa.

  • Keep hard-core techies on a short leash. Intelligent lads and lasses who can explain the innards of e-anything often haven't a clue about how an organization runs. They can be dangerous outside their pens. Limit their time with key executives, paying customers and other decision-makers. Channel their talents toward innovative solutions and difficult projects. Reward them well for good behavior.

  • Ferret out the evil insiders. Security buckaroos are into gadgets and Hollywood. The worst incidents of espionage and criminal fraud have been committed by insiders with trusted access. Spend less time on Hans the Hacker from Hamburg and develop more robust techniques to catch Caspar the Code Cracker down the hall.

  • Embrace public relations. CIOs and their staffs accomplish a lot but don't take enough credit for their successes. Add to your staff a public relations expert to write up IT successes and cultivate internal and external media. Work major PR campaigns during the height of the budget process.

  • Designate an internal IT junkyard dog. Remember the smart, wild-eyed lady who warned you years ago that client-server technology would not be cheaper than mainframe? Find her clone. You still need a personal baloney barometer for all things IT to expose hype, shallow analysis, rogue projects and useless toys.

  • Be bold. CIOs and their staffs are premier organizational change catalysts. If you are in the job for technical glory, exit immediately. Round up your most trusted changemeisters and work with key stakeholders to transform processes and systems. Perform random acts of progress as a benevolent dictator.

Mimi Browning is a former Army executive working in CIO and command, control, computers and communication matters. Contact her at mimi.browning@comcast.net.

About the Author

Browning is a former Army senior executives and former Booz Allen Hamilton principal who now leads Browning Consultants.

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