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The CIO Paradox: Battling the Contradictions of IT Leadership
 
 

The CIO Paradox: Battling the Contradictions of IT Leadership [Kindle Edition]

Martha Heller , Maryfran Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Review

"A must-read for all CIOs and those aspiring to the role. "The CIO Paradox" is a compendium of our colleagues' most valuable and sometimes painful lessons packaged up and told in a compelling and straightforward manner. Heller has distilled years of CIO experience into a pragmatic guide that not only helps CIOs everywhere to improve their game, but forces them to reflect on where they have been and, more importantly, where they should go next." (Timothy C. McCabe, SVP & CIO, Delphi)

Product Description

Regardless of industry, most major companies are becoming technology companies. The successful management of information has become so critical to a company’s goals that in many ways, now is the age of the CIO. Yet IT executives are besieged by a host of contradictions: bad technology can bring a company to its knees, but corporate boards rarely employ CIOs; CIOs must keep costs down at the very same time that they drive innovation. CIOs are focused on the future, while they are tethered by technology decisions made in the past. These contradictions form what Martha Heller calls The CIO Paradox, a set of conflicting forces that are deeply embedded in governance, staffing, executive expectations, and even corporate culture. Heller, who has spent more than 12 years working with the CIO community, offers guidance to CIOs on how to attack, reverse, or neutralize the paradoxical elements of the CIO role. Through interviews with a wide array of successful CIOs, The CIO Paradox helps readers level the playing field for IT success and get one step closer to bringing maximum value to their companies. The book addresses four vantage points for CIOs to consider as they move toward improvement: their particular Role, their Stakeholders, their Organization, and their particular Industry. When fully understood, these four aspects of IT leadership work in concert to comprise what Heller considers to be a winning formula for excellence.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 389 KB
  • Print Length: 265 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 193713427X
  • Publisher: Bibliomotion, Inc.; 1st edition (16 Oct 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009NOYTIS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #155,650 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars How to become a CIO "for all seasons" 26 Sep 2013
By Robert Morris TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Rather than one paradox, as this book's title suggests, Martha Heller rigorously and eloquently examines several separate but related paradoxes: Cost versus Innovation, Operations versus Strategy, Futurist versus Archivist, IT and Business Paradox, Accountability versus Ownership, Recruiting, Enterprise Architecture, Successor, Corporate Board, CIO Career Path, and Future of the CIO Role. What's the problem? Actually, there are dozens and most result from a flaw in a management mindset, what is generally referred to "zero sum thinking." It is sometimes expressed as "Either/Or." In essence, it asserts mutual-exclusivity. For example, consider these dimensions of the CIO's role:

o Hired to be strategic but spends most time and energy on operations
o Charged to be a steward of risk mitigation and cost containment, yet expected to innovate
o Viewed as a service provider, yet expected to be a business driver
o IT can make or break a company but a CIO rarely sits on a board.

You get the idea. And note the resemblance to what had once been paradoxes of the CFO. Years ago, my late and cherished friend, Jeremy Hope, wrote Reinventing the CFO: How Financial Managers Can Transform Their Roles and Add Greater Value (Harvard Business Review Press, 2006). What he tried to do for CFOs and their companies is what Heller is trying to do for CIOs and their companies. Resolving various paradoxes by reinventing the CIO is in the best-interests of current and aspiring CIOs, of course, but also in the best interests of stakeholders, the given organization, its industry, and -- yes -- the global economy.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Heller's coverage.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  43 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CIO Survival Guide 12 Oct 2012
By David Rosenbaum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The old joke -- CIO stands for "Career is Over" -- is less funny than ever as cloud computing and the consumerization of information technology threatens to make the CIO role irrelevant. Heller, who apparently has had an enormous amount of experience talking with CIOs and finding them jobs, offers advice on how CIOs can survive and thrive during the current computing paradigm shift. The book is written in an easy, chatty, informal style that belies its deep understanding of the pressures on CIOs to deliver more with less in world where the demand for IT services is ever increasing even as the supply is constrained. I think CIOs, and anyone interested in the future of IT in business, will be both entertained and informed by a book that's hitting the right topic at the right time.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The CIO "for all seasons" 26 Sep 2013
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Rather than one paradox, as this book's title suggests, Martha Heller rigorously and eloquently examines several separate but related paradoxes: Cost versus Innovation, Operations versus Strategy, Futurist versus Archivist, IT and Business Paradox, Accountability versus Ownership, Recruiting, Enterprise Architecture, Successor, Corporate Board, CIO Career Path, and Future of the CIO Role. What's the problem? Actually, there are dozens and most result from a flaw in a management mindset, what is generally referred to as "zero sum thinking." It is sometimes expressed as "Either/Or." In essence, it asserts mutual-exclusivity. For example, consider these dimensions of the CIO's role:

o Hired to be strategic but spends most time and energy on operations
o Charged to be a steward of risk mitigation and cost containment, yet expected to innovate
o Viewed as a service provider, yet expected to be a business driver
o IT can make or break a company but a CIO rarely sits on a board.

You get the idea. And note the resemblance to what had once been paradoxes of the CFO. Years ago, my late and cherished friend, Jeremy Hope, wrote Reinventing the CFO: How Financial Managers Can Transform Their Roles and Add Greater Value (Harvard Business Review Press, 2006). What he tried to do for CFOs and their companies is what Heller is trying to do for CIOs and their companies. Resolving various paradoxes by reinventing the CIO is in the best-interests of current and aspiring CIOs, of course, but also in the best interests of stakeholders, the given organization, its industry, and -- yes -- the global economy.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Heller's coverage.

o Develop a Really Effective Metaphor, and, Keep It Simple (6-13)
o Build a Culture of Innovation (5-20)
o Structure Your Organization for Strategy (25-29)
o Six Global Paradoxes (42-51)
o Learn to Sell Legacy Improvements (59-62)
o Tighten Your Connection to the Business (66-70)
o Revisit Some Communication Basics (75-79)
o Strengthen the Business Skills of Your Team (85-90)
o Don't Mistake Governance for Shared Accountability (101-105)
o Lead the Business (108-111)
o Full Support from the Top: The Perfect Search (123-125)
o Breaking Down the Enterprise Architecture (EA) Paradox (127-130)

Comment: In my opinion, the best source for additional guidance with this immensely important task can be found in Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, co-authored by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson, published by Harvard Business Review Press (2006).

o Find the Right Talent (133-138)
o The Challenges of CIO Succession, and, Identify a Successor for Tomorrow, Not Today (142-148)
o The Case for CIO Board Appointments (166-170)
o From CIO to CEO (185-190)

So, how to reinvent the CIO? How to win the battle to resolve the contradictions of IT leadership? Heller suggests 17 specific initiatives. Here's my take on five:

o Be a chameleon: develop a mindset and skills that resemble a Swiss Army knife
o Develop blended executives with cross-functional expertise
o Excel at recruiting by identifying talent constantly even if hiring only occasionally
o Get rid of the context: stop labeling and stereotyping based on someone's prior experience
o Lead change (especially innovation) rather than be reactive

When concluding her brilliant book, Martha Heller observes, "To me, the CIO role is simply fascinating. It is rife with so many contradictions that I cannot imagine how anyone could ever be successful in it. And yet, I meet them every day. Yes, the CIO Paradox exists and breaking it is as hard as it can be. But the CIOs who do it - or who come very close - have a view of business, technology, customers, markets, and human behavior that is beyond the scope of any other executive. If you can get past the Paradox, chances are, you are in for a good time."

My own opinion is that (a) all current or aspiring CIOs will find invaluable the information, insights, and counsel provided in this volume and (b) they -individually or in collaboration - will help to achieve the transformation, indeed the reinvention of the CIO role.

Indeed, all residents of the C-Suite must be or become leaders and managers "for all seasons" in months and years to come. Paradoxes are inevitable, especially in complex, stressful situations. They are eventually resolved but others develop. At this point, my only suggestions are, first, to develop what Carol Dweck characterizes as a "growth mindset," and then to follow Oscar Wilde's advice: "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making IT issues clear to a non-IT reader! 16 Oct 2012
By Peter Naccarato - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Martha Heller not only speaks to those well versed in the IT-world and those who have encountered the CIO paradox in their own professional lives, she also speaks to those of us who have struggled to know how best to support our IT staff and maximize the benefits of limited resources. I have been in so many meetings and participated in so many conversations in which IT leaders and staff are blamed for problems -- so many of which are beyond their power to fix. With a wonderfully accessible and conversational style, Heller helps anyone whose business relies on IT (and these days, whose doesn't?) understand how to work collaboratively with IT leaders to address problems, maximize resources, and built a strong IT department.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, Credible Insight and Advice for CIOs 18 Oct 2012
By Abbie Lundberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Being a CIO is one of the toughest jobs in the world of business. So naturally, there have been a number of books written about its challenges and how to be successful. The CIO Paradox stands out on a number of fronts.
First, it begins and ends with practice rather than theory. Heller's insights are directly tied to the on-the-job experiences and learnings of some of the world's top CIOs, whose stories fill the book.
Second, while Heller organizes all that she's learned into a framework of sorts (the 12 paradoxes, organized into four sections on the CIO's role, stakeholder relationships, staff leadership and the future), she doesn't try to tie things up too neatly. There are no simple answers to complex problems, and it doesn't get much more complex than organizational and technology leadership in the midst of the shift to a digital economy. What there is instead is some great proven advice that CIOs can trust to help them start solving the paradox for themselves.
Finally, Heller's book is different in its readability. It's like having a series of engaging conversations with a super networker, which Heller definitely is. Too many business books feel like taking your medicine. The experience of reading The CIO Paradox is more like enjoying a good meal.
Full disclosure: I worked with Martha for years at CIO magazine, where I was editor in chief and she launched and ran the CIO Best Practices Exchange and its successor, the CIO Executive Council. While this may bias me somewhat, it also provides weight to my knowledge of her experience and credibility. You can read my interview with her on the launch of The CIO Paradox at
[...]
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Knowledge for CIOs who want to survive 16 Oct 2012
By Allison C. Rimm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a senior executive who oversaw the IT department of a major academic medical center for over a decade, I know firsthand that Martha Heller describes a true phenomenon that calls upon CIOs to cultivate a depth of knowledge of corporate behavior if they are to thrive in their careers. Tech savvy, strategic thinking and organizational intelligence don't always come together in a single individual, yet all are critical to success in this pivotal role plagued by the contradictions Heller so clearly describes. Her insights inspire and deliver practical ways to deliver the value their companies so critically rely on. This will become the CIO's bible in no time.
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