CIOs can't delegate decisions on IT strategies

Outside input is certainly welcome, but when bridging business and IT goals, CIOs hold the ultimate responsibility

Dear Bob ...

I have worked 10 years in IT (network and end-user). My interest -- and a huge need -- is aligning IT actions, goals, and strategy with business actions, goals, and strategy.

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What are some job titles for a position like this?

- Strategist

Dear Strategist ...

CIO.

I'm mostly not kidding. This isn't something CIOs should delegate; it's a core part of the job description.

This isn't to say CIOs don't include others in their organization when formulating goals, actions, strategy, and so on. Doing so in a vacuum leads to some serious challenges -- for example, ignorant strategies that have little to do with what's desirable or practical.

Smart CIOs make an inclusive exercise of setting direction. They might even do their best to bring everyone into consensus on the subject, but in the end, they're still the ones responsible for determining the course.

Some companies externalize this into a Program Management Office, although these organizations, in addition to being the repositories of standard project management practice, generally attend only to efforts big enough to qualify as projects. They don't usually get involved in the primary allocation of staff and budget for discretionary versus nondiscretionary activities, nor the secondary allocation between how much to reserve for the enhancements queue and how much should be available for project use.

Oh, one more thing: "Aligning" IT actions and so on with the business is a very last-century approach. What businesses need to do is to integrate IT into their strategies, tactics, goals, and actions. (At the risk of sounding too self-promotional, you'll find a lot about this subject in my book, "Keep the Joint Running: A Manifesto for 21st Century Information Technology.")

My best shot at this is that if you want to be involved in the connection between IT and the rest of the enterprise, you need to get yourself into the cockpit before you can fly the plane. Anyplace else, you're just sitting in coach, hoping the number of take-offs and landings is equal.

- Bob

This story, "CIOs can't delegate decisions on IT strategies," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bob Lewis's Advice Line blog on InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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