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Take It to the Next Level

Take It to the Next Level

Challenges for CIOs who think they've done it all

Going Elsewhere

There are some fabulous adventures to be had by just picking up stakes and getting on the road. Every one of the following I've seen done with failure and success - but never without excitement, learning and seasoning.

Trade up. Use your peer network and executive search companies to put you in the running for the CIO job at a bigger, better company, with challenges that are massive compared with yours. Just be sure it's not more of the same.

Turn the tables. Develop a limited partner relationship with a venture capital fund and help it review technologies. Invest yourself, if you can, and then help grow the companies as well. Few things are more challenging or more rewarding.

Do it yourself. Some of you will not be able to resist the idea of your own start-up. It's high risk but high return, and nothing else will test your limits as well. As one investor said to me:"For a new business to fail, any one of 10,000 things could go wrong. For it to succeed, they all have to go right."

Save the world. Nonprofits (also known as nongovernmental organisations or NGOs) come in all flavours, sizes and shapes, from the masterfully run nature conservancies to the Mom-and-Pop utopians. Somewhere in this large sector there may be an organisation that needs you and fits some ideals you've been dying to satisfy - just so you can tell your kids you did something special.

The bottom line is that if you're bored or feel you've reached your limit, there are lots of options. Get out and challenge yourself by talking through these ideas with colleagues and new acquaintances outside your network.

Take your time and think carefully about how a move will contribute to the growth of your leadership capabilities. It's worthwhile to put together a kitchen cabinet of five to seven interested people willing to be held accountable for watching you and helping you through a big challenge.

Most importantly, get your heart, mind, soul and spouse aligned on whatever you try to do. If any of those get significantly out of balance, your big adventure can turn into a big disaster much earlier than you think.

Christopher Hoenig has been an entrepreneur (CEO of Exolve), consultant (McKinsey & Company) and inventor, and is the author of The Problem Solving Journey: Your Guide for Making Decisions and Getting Results. He is now director of strategic issues for the General Accounting Office

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