: What makes a CIO job the most volatile, high-turnover job in business? How important is CIO leadership for the future success of companies?
A: Early in our careers at the Harvard Business School, we discovered that the turnover of CIOs ran at around 30 to 40 percent per year. As a result of our research, we described the driving cause as the rapid change of IT through the operation of Moore's Law (IT cost halving every 18 months or so), which we thought would be short-lived. But when we looked at the turnover rates again a few years later, we discovered the rate was about the same, but the driving cause was more than just the rapid change in IT: It was also because IT was the nexus of major organizational change, the key enabler of business process redesign.
Over the years, the CIO job has remained a hot seat in business and has, in turn, become a key management position ...view middle of the document...
Davies focused where he was strongest—on his relationship to the IT department—and tended to retreat into the IT "basement" in times of conflict with business units and senior management. Barton paid attention to his staff, while at the same time more effectively managing communication with his peers and the CEO, making more explicit business arguments for IT in the context of senior leadership meetings, and inviting the CEO and partners into important, risk trade-off decisions. An important lesson Barton learns over the course of the novel, after rashly seizing control of IT project prioritization, is the importance of including business-side managers in certain key decisions so that all are invested in a successful outcome.
In other words: Successful IT strategy and management is now extremely dependent on collaboration with the senior management team and the IT team. In the twenty-first century, IT has become a "participative sport" for the senior management team, rather than a "spectator sport." Barton was persistent in making the senior management play IT as a participative sport. Davies wasn't.
In the structure of the hero's journey, Davies is someone Barton must come to understand in order to surpass. In the course of the story, Barton first rejects Davies' management approach, then in a more mature fashion, finds ways to "get into the skin" of his opponent, incorporate the useful perspectives he has to offer, and find ways to make new choices based on an understanding of why Davies failed.
Q: The crisis section we are excerpting at the end of this interview is about coping with a sudden denial of service attack. It's also about Barton navigating around conflicting advice while preparing for a meeting with Wall Street analysts in which he must put his best face forward. Barton's CEO is particularly tough. How common is it for a CIO to be caught in the middle, and have you any genera