The Mutt is complaining. He resents not being allowed to attend the regular CIO Leaders’ Lunches and this month’s CIO annual conference. He has a point: any old dog like me — and even a few young dogs — could learn a lot by listening to the wisdom of peers. Last month’s CIO lunch featured NRMA’s Catherine Rusby, who describes herself as the luckiest CIO in town as she achieves success in her dual role of CIO and business strategist. Well, okay, she acknowledges with a smile, the project isn’t over yet. Wait till next year when it all comes together and then check to see if she remains the happiest CIO in town. Chances are she will be happy because it is quickly apparent that one of her greatest strengths is her ability to reason with those around her — and to get them all in line with her vision. Note here that Rusby eschews the word “IT” in her communications. She is adamant that staff and her peers refer to the NRMA system re-engineering process as a business project. With business in mind, there’s no reason to turn off your peers by confounding them with technology.
Rusby’s business project is ambitious. Among other things, it involves reducing 300 applications to fewer than 30. And to a large degree it hinges around an off-the-shelf package designed for Microsoft software. Despite all the licensing issues, it appears that the price advantage easily lies with Microsoft. And developers, familiar with the environment, love it.
Rusby’s planned IT (excuse me for using that word) environment relies heavily on outsourcers, as does Customs CIO Peter Rosewarne. His job has been given added weight in the wake of last year’s September 11 horror in the US. Rosewarne has been in the CIO business long enough to have developed a great many interesting views on key events that have impacted on his peers. Make sure you read about his comments on the Y2K scramble — “the ultimate distraction” — and where his business goes from here. Rosewarne says Y2K got in the way of a great deal of forward thinking and caused IT managers to lose their strategic vision.”
Back to outsourcing: CIO John Bone says he took a risk when he took Datamail’s business to outsourcer Sytec. Bone says he didn’t want a typical “wait-and-see” reply from those who responded to his outsourcing RFP. What he wanted was a clear, strategic vision. In other words, he wanted revolution, not evolution, when it came to his business systems. He got what he wanted, and so far the results have been highly agreeable.
Being a good leader is to a large degree about being able to articulate your ideas in ways that your peers and senior management understand. If you can get them involved in the changes, you can bring them along with you.
The Mutt’s usual response to people is to either snarl or beg. What sort of a manager would he make?
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