why the best CIOs are entrepreneurs

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More than ever, the modern CIO must engage users and managers alike in strategic technology projects. With businesses demanding more accountability from their IT departments, and with IT expected to be more of a strategic driver for organizations, the ivory tower style of technology management is no longer relevant.

Traditionally, IT departments have been dictatorial in the way that projects are delivered. While they will consult with users, ownership of the project has been placed entirely with IT. The user is little more than a customer for many IT shops, rather than a strategic partner.

Could the modern CIO succeed with an more effective engagement strategy? One of the most productive ways might be to think more like an entrepreneur than a senior manager.

One of the key success factors in any project is to give it away. Entrepreneurs building their own organizations, and evangelists attempting to create transformational projects inside existing companies, have one thing in common: they are willing to leverage strong individuals in their community to make the project better. That may involve giving up some level of control in order to get powerful and knowledgeable players on board.

For example, an entrepreneur building a collaborative business space might allow a maven within the community to take on some of the strategic direction in the project, in return for building a broad base of support.

Similarly, a CIO trying to transform the business by introducing cloud-based applications within a company might allow the user base to dictate which applications are to be made available–and even to participate in budgetary planning.

Such leaps of faith require courage, and a significant level of managerial rewiring. 

Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.