What skills do CIOs need? How can they be learned?
This page is designed to offer a place to capture a list of potential skills and then several models/frameworks for seeing how those skills can be related to each other and taught.
A Simple List of Skills
What skills do CIOs (and the technology community more broadly) need to have? For each skill: what literature/articles describe those skills? How can performance be assessed? How can the skill be learned? To what extent can/should it be taught?
Can you help us get started?
1. Basic leadership skills. 4.28.08 From Frank N.
Although a successful CIO ought to have a reasonably wide and deep understanding of information and communications technology and of business processes, she can make up for the lack of such knowledge by building a team of knowledgeable people around her. However, a successful CIO cannot take such an approach when it comes to leadership skills. She has to develop an understanding of her impact (positive and negative) on other people---those on her staff; those executives who are her clients/customers; those people throughout the organization and outside of it on whose support the success of her projects will rest. Much has to do with the CIO understanding the impact her personality has on others. An excellent source of 2-3 day programs for helping leaders and potential leaders acquire this knowledge about themselves –the first step in building leadership skills- is the Center for Creative Leadership. http://www.ccl.org/leadership/about/quickFacts.aspx
Although 73% of the participants in CCL programs are from the private sector, 16% are from the government, 6% from higher education and 5% from non profit organizations.
2. Understanding the culture of the organization. from Frank There is a recent article in Educause on research about what CIOs in higher education have to be prepared to deal with vs CIOs in private industry. http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM0710.pdf
It strikes me that what the article really suggests is that a successful CIO has to get very familiar with the culture of her organization, the chain of command or the lack of one, the impact of outside influences on programs and operations that are not on the organization chart, etc. I think the author makes a false contrast between the private sector and higher education by suggesting or implying that these factors do not operate in private sector organizations---especially the ones these days wherein there is a large amount of collaboration across organizations---partnerships---that a CIO must be aware of and take into consideration in any key decision. From more of a nuts and bolts perspective, the CMU/Federal CIO partnership for operating the Federal CIO Certificate Program seems to be pretty comprehensive. And this program is not limited to federal government employees. http://ism.cmu.edu/CIO-Executive-Education/Program/curriculum.asp
13.Interpreting (culture of business/city)?
14.Influencing - The [aka Chief Influence Officer] ability to shape the decisions, actions, and/or perceptions of program leaders and workforce by delivering thematic messages & conducting activities to advance the interests of the Executive Leadership goals and its key Federal program partners. Influencing for a more desirable strategic effect.[Charles C.]
The Capacity-Value-Support model for leadership and strategic management
One framework for identifying skills is provided by the Capacity-Value-Support model developed by Mark Moore and others at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. For a book-length treatment see: Mark H. Moore, Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government,Harvard University Press, 1995. A brief introduction to this thinking is provided by Herman (Dutch) Leonard in "A Short Note on Public Sector Strategy-Building," 2002.
In brief, the C-V-S model argues that an effective strategic positioning requires alignment between the capacity of the organization to do things, the value for the public created by what the organization does, and the support provided through the organizations's authorizing environment (the political process). Leaders must clarify and execute the behaviors that produce such alignment -- this is the essence of strategic management.
When the organization is not well-positioned strategically, leaders must respond with some combination of three critical roles:
- The managerial role, to create the organizational capacity required
- The analyst role, to identify where and how public value is best served
- The advocate role, to mobilize and sustain political support
The questions to resolve in designing relevant courses for CIOs would then become: What skills do CIOs need to properly perform the managerial, analyst, and advocate roles in various settings? Which of those skills can be taught in courses? What should those courses look like?
Manager role and skills
These are what the CIO needs in order to develop and deliver organizational capacities for IT-enabled change:
1. Technical credibility
The CIO needs a certain level of technical knowledge and skill for influence and respect with the technical staff and with peers on technical issues. Staff will judge whether the CIO can deliver resources to the unit and can assemble the advice/information required to resolve technical issues. Peers will assess the ability of the CIO to deliver performance from the technical staff and be aware of/communicate how IT is being used for problems in similar settings.
While the skills needed here are partly those of technical literacy, they are very importantly skills required to develop trustworthy communications and relationships with the other CXOs.The CEO and other CXOs will control critical resources for strategic change and must see the CIO as competent and trustworthy. Since strategic change is focused on new possibilities, ongoing intelligence-gathering is required to know what is going on inside and outside the organization of importance to the technology agenda.
While both technical knowledge and communications/relationship credibility can be improved through courses, it appears that offerings today focus more on technical knowledge than relationship credibility.
2. Infrastructure development
Articles About Infrastructure Development Challenges
- Two reasons Why IT Projects Continue To Fail - from CIO magazine
- Survey: Information Management a Priority for CIOs, But Elusive - from CIO magazine
3. Organizational change
Articles about Organizational change
http://www.govtech.com/gt/articles/284857?id=&story_pg=2 Aligning IT and Business Is Priority for Public CIOs
4. ++ Other CIO managerial skills
http://www.govtech.com/pcio/articles/104748?id=&story_pg=1 - A very "surfacey" article but easy reading and touches on some skills
Audit comliance and best practice
ITIL: IT Best Practices 
CobiT: Information Technology Governance 
CMMI: Capability Maturity Model Integration(process improvement) www.cmmifaq.info/
Analyst Role and Skills
These are what the CIO needs to identify activities that add public value.
Evidence-based rational choice
Performance measurement and efficiency analysis
Advocate Role and Skills
These are what the CIO needs to mobilize and sustain support from the authorizing environment.
The CIO needs to be able to communicate with users, peers, partners, overseers, and senior management on their level, using their language. Successful advocacy requires understanding what the stakeholders want and explaining your goals and plans in ways that align with their own goals and plans. One of the key roles of the CIO is to translate the advice from technical staff and partners into business or mission language that resonates with non-technical stakeholders.
Advocacy down and in
Advocacy ought to be in and out. See the review on negotiation and mediation -Dealing with an Angry Public. think strategic skillset for CIOs need to include these both negotiation (mutual gains approach) and mediation.
Dealing with an Angry Public:
The Mutual Gains Approach to Resolving Disputes
by Lawrence Susskind and Patrick Field
New York: The Free Press, 1996
Patrick Field on Dealing With An Angry Public (from CBI Reports, Fall 1996, vol. 1, issue 2)
There are many reasons for the public to be angry. Business and governmental leaders have consistently covered up mistakes, concealed evidence of potential risks, made misleading statements, and out and out lied. Our leaders have fueled a rising tide of public distrust of both business and government by behaving in these ways. But beneath these wrong-headed actions is bad advice. Whether by public relations experts or attorneys, decision-makers are often told to commit to nothing and admit nothing, to obscure and conceal rather than to clarify and reveal. The public is treated like an angry mob. Their concerns are brushed aside in order to maintain a good organizational image, regardless of the substance beneath the veneer.
Fortunately, over the last several years, the Consensus Building Institute has had the opportunity to offer better advice to decision makers. In the last 3 years, CBI has reached over 1,500 corporate executives, non-profit managers, and government officials through a training program entitled "Dealing with an Angry Public." This training is held twice annually in Cambridge and also brought to many corporate clients and public agencies.
Earlier this year, the training course culminated in the publication of Dealing with an Angry Public. President Lawrence Susskind and Senior Associate Patrick Field, who both have direct experience in numerous consensus building and conflict resolution efforts, spent most of 1995 gathering case study materials, reflecting on past trainings, and honing arguments to complete the book. The book is constructed around six key elements of the "mutual gains approach" to dealing with the public:
Acknowledge the concerns of the other side.
Encourage joint fact-finding.
Offer contingent commitments to minimize impacts if they do occur, and promise to compensate unintended (but knowable) effects.
Accept responsibility, admit mistakes, and share power.
Act in a trustworthy fashion at all times.
Focus on building long-term relationships.
It focuses in detail on five particular cases to emphasize both the conventional responses to an angry public and an alternative the authors call the mutual gains approach. Events at Three Mile Island and the Exxon Valdez oil spill are used to highlight points about dealing with public outcry in the aftermath of serious accidents. The Dow Corning silicone breast implant controversy is fertile ground for exploring corporate response to potential human health risks. Finally, the James Bay hydroelectric development project and the animal rights controversy provide means to discuss how best to deal with the public when fundamental values are at stake.
While deceptively simple in print, the six principles are not easy to put in practice. The complexities of each situation, the lack of full information, the rapidity of unfolding events and the immediate decisions required to respond, as well as the numerous opinions offered by advisors, all make implementing these valuable ideas challenging. However, as one reviewer in Planning remarked: "Susskind and Field don't claim that this approach is easy or that it will always work. They do claim that it beats the alternatives." The book is available at most local bookstores in the business section, or can be ordered with the form on the back of this issue of CBI Reports.
Amazon.com -- more details and ordering information
Free Press Publishers (Simon & Schuster)
CPR Best Dispute Resolution Book of 1996 the Year Award Statment html
Executive Seminar "Dealing with an Angry Public" by PON.