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No Surprises

No Surprises

Here's some advice you can take to the bank: CEOs do not like surprises (just ask Frank Cicutto).

IT is no more important than any other business discipline - even though it's seen as a department that brings significant risk to the table.

IT never delivers on time, so business should own it.

And the CIO is part of the problem.

If one of your directors expressed these views, would you be surprised?

Maybe? Maybe not?

But here's the corker: These were the words of ex-NSW Premier and ubiquitous board member Nick Greiner, speaking to a group of CIOs at a Gartner Executive Programs (EXP) meeting.

Surprises in business are often the result of a lack of understanding, communication or respect between parties, as evidenced in Greiner's comments.

The surprise decision by a CEO of a change in direction is the bugbear of all managers, IT or not. Priorities have to be changed, people repositioned, reskilled or replaced, and budgets reassessed. On the other side of the coin, the announcement by the CIO or IT manager that a particular project will not (or more often has not) reached its performance or financial targets, is one of the main reasons why non-IT execs often have such a low opinion of IT.

Kenneth McGee, a Gartner (US) vice president and analyst who is not sure surprises should even exist, includes the usual suspects when he lists the most common surprises experienced by IT managers: lateness in achieving project milestones and project completions, changes in the scope of a project, increases in the cost of a project, fully-tested projects that fail at the most inopportune time.

All being well, there shouldn't be any surprises, nasty or otherwise, between a CIO and his CEO (or CFO, COO, or any other CXO, or downstream with his or her own department, for that matter). They should have a relationship based on trust and understanding, where there is full disclosure, with both parties pulling together working towards common goals.

So how do you achieve this relationship nirvana? It's not easy.

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

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