I recently contributed to a discussion on Twitter about what a CIO should do in their first 100 days in a new role. As with all such questions there isn’t a generic answer that will apply to every new CIO. A number of factors will determine the detail and none more so than the circumstances that brought about the new appointment. For example, if the new CIO is the first person in the post then the content of their first 100 days are likely to vary quite a bit from someone taking over from a CIO that was in post for many years.
Other factors that will determine what takes up a new CIO’s time include the maturity and performance of the IT department, the state of the technology platform, the extent to which services are outsourced and the status or health of any ongoing initiatives and projects.
It is possible though to offer some broad guidance that will apply to all new CIOs in their first 100 days. My answer to the Twitter discussion listed 4 key activities that I believe should be relevant to any CIO in a new role.
- Learn about the business: Before the CIO can make any changes, formulate a strategy or take a leading role in any initiative, they have to get to know the business, what it does and how it operates. This involves talking to as many people as possible from every level across all functions and locations and where relevant with customers. IT underpins every aspect of the modern business and no role has a better view across the entire organisation than the CIO. But the CIO has to gain that understanding and no-one has a better view of this than the organisations’s people and its customers.
- Build relationships with key stakeholders: these will be essential as the new CIO starts to implement changes for which they will need support and also in ensuring the CIO and the IT department are viewed as a partner to the rest of the business. It is these relationships that will help the CIO to become involved in broader business issues beyond IT in the longer-term.
- Identify immediate issues: Any IT department, no matter how mature or successful will have some live issues. The new CIO has to identify and understand these issues even if they are being managed well and are under control. This helps the new CIO to establish credibility within and outside the IT department. They may also be able to offer a new perspective on an issue that may aid its resolution.
- Assess your team: You are only as good as your team. During the first 100 days a new CIO has to get to know their team including skill sets, attitudes, strengths and weaknesses. They also need to look at any skills/resource gaps, the way the team is organised and how the different parts work together. Asking key stakeholders for their feedback will also provide a useful source of information.
So whilst the first 100 days for a new CIO will vary according to the business they have joined there are some key activities that they can plan for on day one. If these are done correctly I believe the new CIO will have made a solid start in their new role.