While watching daytime television the other day, I was struck by a thought that led to me spewing good beer over my convenient ottoman. I don’t know about where you live, but where I live, daytime television is filled with shows about “relationships”. The shows use engaging hosts and rowdy audiences to work through relationship “issues” such as “My wife is dating my daughter”, “The love of my husband’s life is his remote control”, and “My wife sold our car to pay for her $2000-a-month dermabrasion habit”.
Anyway, the source of my wet ottoman was this thought: Why don’t people in business have TV shows like those? A good start would be “CFOs and CIOs: Where is the love?”
Of course, just having such a TV show would acknowledge a truth no one talks about. CIOs and CFOs play corporate roles that engender tension at least equal to the tension in a marriage when, through a breakdown in communication, a husband buys a jet ski when his wife thinks the money would have been more wisely spent on a vasectomy.
I could see CIOs and CFOs benefiting from a show where the host, a licensed psychologist or a former game-show host, got them to “open up” and express their “issues”, ultimately resulting in a teary hug and real commitment to make the relationship work.
I can see it now. The CFO (let’s call him Bob) would talk about what a good provider he has been, funding all manner of obscure technologies for which determining the rate on investment is harder than dissuading your daughter from getting her tongue pierced.
He would express frustration at what he sees as the CIO’s single-minded focus, taking the opportunity to insult the CIO by referring to IT hardware as “bells and whistles”, “doodads” and “bound to become as obsolete as vinyl records”. The frustration would come to a climax when the CFO, voice quaking, told the story about surprising the CIO after hours, and finding her lovingly fondling a router.
Although listening to all of this politely, the CIO’s body language would suggest a growing, seething, white-hot anger. Following an advertisement for a new, spring-scented, disposable, germ-fighting toilet-rim wipe, it would be the CIO’s turn.
The CFO allergy
The CIO (let’s call her Jane) would then have her turn. She would relate the inherent philosophical difference the couple has: She, with her focus on using technology to create efficiencies for a workforce whose demands are ever increasing; he with his narrow-minded, short-sighted, dim-witted, drooly obsession with never having to spend a lousy penny, for crying out loud, even though most of the calls to her help desk are from his employees, who combine the resistance to change with the technological savvy of cork.
It’s at this point members of the studio audience would give their observations and suggestions, since a basic premise of all these shows is that even the stupidest person, whose only visible ability is converting oxygen to carbon dioxide, has something intelligent to add.
Following another advertisement for a new breakthrough product that fights toenail fungi 10 times better than napalm, the host would try to summarise both sides’ positions and find a middle ground. The host might then suggest small ways the couple can work together, such as co-chairing the organisation’s participation in the charity 10-kilometre “Run to conquer gingivitis”.
And imagine the surprise as the host then invites the CEO to come out onto the stage and to have the couple hold hands as they repeat their vows to the company’s mission statement.
In the end – and to the applause of the emotionally drained audience – the CFO and CIO would embrace in a tearful hug as the credits blur across the television screen.
Tune in next week for “Marketing people and the wolves that raised them”.
Dan Danbom is a US-based columnist and freelance business writer.
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