This winter I got hooked on the TV program Mythbusters. If you haven't seen it, it's basically these two kinda dorky (but nonetheless appealing) guys who set about debunking (or proving) various myths and urban legends. Important stuff like: Can a person receive third-degree burns if he or she lights a cigarette while inside a port-a-potty? Is yawning contagious? Just how hard is it to find a needle in a haystack? Well, you get the drift. It's a fun watch, but while I recommend you give it a try this isn't about spruiking a TV show. It's about the show's title.
At the end of last month I was involved with the Sydney-based SEARCC "Building ICT Bridges" conference. Over two-and-a-half days I chaired a host of sessions, including keynotes and management stream presentations. And, with only a couple of exceptions, most speakers trotted out at least one slide with, or made mention of, cliches, myths or skewed views about CIOs.
Listening to these folk, you'd come away thinking that CIOs are a bunch of people who: 1. Can't keep their jobs ("average tenure is 18 months"); 2. Are in dead-end jobs ("Career Is Over"); 3. Are largely viewed by CEOs as not critical to business success ("more CIOs are reporting to CFOs"); 4. Deliver nothing but failed projects (pie charts ad nauseam); 5. Work in a sector that's trivial ("IT Doesn't Matter"); 6. Don't understand the business they are in ("no alignment with the business"); 7. Should be ashamed of themselves and the havoc they have wrought (David Murray's jibe at IT's promise fails to deliver); and 8. Unlike their other corporate brethren (COOs, CFOs, CMOs et al) are generally clueless about what the rest of the people are doing in their building. Oh, and by the way, in the next couple of years the entire IT department will be probably be offshored, so there's no reason to stick around for the long haul.
Well, you know and I know that these observations are mostly wrong, wrong, wrong. Some are based on shoddy research, some are mistaken interpretations of statements and some are just goofy cliches that are well past their use-by dates.
And I think it's time to bust them wide open once and for all. But I can't do this by myself, I need your help. Here's what I propose, along with a plan of action. Let's start compiling the CIO Myths List (a collection of laughable and insulting observations about IT and CIOs). Send me your comments about the ones listed above or send me new ones (along with your comments about why they are incorrect). Each month we'll publish a myth and bust it to smithereens.
It's time to set the record straight. Better yet, maybe we'll actually see these myths busted to the point that we'll never have to sit through another PowerPoint presso where one or more are included. And if you're the person who sent in the best busted myth of the month, we'll send you a DVD of the TV show as your reward.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.