Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I was at a standstill on a blog that I alluded to in my previous Thick as a Brick submission when I ran across a similar theme from Jonathan Feldman on Information Week Global CIO, No One Likes Petulant Teenagers.  The premise that I alluded to was that many CIOs are in the business of damage control and thus have no bandwidth left to be visionary.

Jonathan’s call for both IT and LOB to stop acting like petulant teenagers got my attention as I was bothered by the number of articles out there that seem to place all of the blame on IT.  Mr. Feldman points out that even as we continue to slash IT budgets, we continue to put more and more responsibility on the shoulders of the CIO — often times without including them in the decisions that result in the problem space that they must now address.  If we’re all supposed to be partners in business, shouldn’t we adopt a spirit of collaboration?  The “us and them” mentality is extremely detrimental to overall enterprise progress.

Perhaps part of the problem is the very definition of what a CIO is.  We all recognize that the “I” is for information, but isn’t the CIO also responsible for Infrastructure, Implementation, Innovation (and probably a litany of other “I” words).  Without implementation and infrastructure there is no information to manage and innovation is flat out impossible.  Besides, isn’t information really the responsibility of the business, and data the responsibility of IT?

I agree with Mr. Feldman that “Almost every important business process innovation of the last two decades has relied on technology”.  Then why do we continue to throw IT under the bus for not delivering value to the business?  LOB leaders often fail to realize how much the role of IT has changed over the last couple of decades.  I don’t see things getting any easier with the growth of Big Data initiatives, the internet of things, self-service BI and increasing analytical demands of data scientists.

I also recognize that there is so much potential in the information technology space to perform much better than the level at which many IT departments are operating today.  But it takes time, money, and talent to operate in a mode of continuous improvement while juggling constantly changing priorities on consistently shrinking budgets and staff.  Maybe Konstantin Josef Jireček had CIOs in mind when he wrote: “We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.”

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