"Most decisions sent to be resolved by IT are actually business problems for management. What plagues CIOs is the notion that they can do it all. Well, you can if you have an infinite budget, but you don't."
Besides knowing what the organization cannot do, it is important to identify what the CIO cannot do, and delegate effectively in order to defuse the pressure. For example, one CIO has a dedicated architecture manager to whom he defers on all architecture decisions. "Why would I have this person and his expensive skills and then take the decision on myself," he says. "I don't want to make all the technical decisions, some people might but I certainly can't."
Effective teams to which the CIO can delegate and strong succession plans also alleviate the strain by ensuring the CIO can share the day-to-day load, and organize downtime to attend conferences, plan for the future or take holidays.
Yet for every manager that can recognize and live with their limitations, delegate effectively and build a strong team, there is another waking in a cold sweat at 3am over a decision they have taken that is going pear-shaped. Identifying and dealing with failures early is important for CIOs who want any sort of quality of life.
"Pressure exists but it's far less than the pressure when things have already gone pear-shaped," says one senior IT manager. "One of the times when I feel pressure is when things do go pear-shaped because of influence from offshore that I have no control over. That's when you need relationships with managers that are rock solid so you can have frank discussions with them and say what is achievable. Also you've got to make the business make decisions on what is a priority. That's the best way to relieve the pressure."
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