I write this having just arrived on the US east coast after spending 24 hours on planes and in airports. I'm a tired and uninspired (in truth, jet-lagged and brain-dead would be more accurate) so this will be short if not particularly sweet.
I'm feeling a bit long in the tooth these days. Used to be I could hop on a plane, traverse half the globe and be no worse for the wear. These days it's all I can do to deposit my suitcase, take a shower and fall into bed - no matter if it's 2am or 2pm. I know that runs counter to every traveller tip, but I've never been one to follow advice and see no reason to start now. Maybe it's nature's way of telling me I'm getting world weary.
Actually I am weary, but not of the world. Tomorrow, after a solid night's sleep, I'll no longer be tired and the jet lag will tail off after a day or two, but weary I will remain. Weary and fed up with continued characterization of CIOs as dunderheads and IT departments as bastions of propeller-heads with nary a clue.
In anticipation of long hours to kill while flying, and three months of forward assignments for my contributors, I armed myself with a sheaf of expert reports and the odd book or two, all purporting to provide an incisive look at "improving" the view of IT in organizations.
And what insight did I get? None. Zero. Zip. Instead, in each of these supposed insightful tomes I read the same formulaic observations and judgements, the same cookie-cutter descriptions and the same sweeping generalizations heaped upon CIOs and IT departments.
The tar bucket is apparently bottomless, with the so-called experts more than willing to dip their brushes into it again, and again, and again. The sad, old - and incorrect - refrain is:
- IT is uncommunicative.
- IT doesn't understand the business.
- IT is inflexible.
- IT is insular.
The past 12 months, because of my involvement with the CIO Executive Council, I've spent more time in concert with CIOs than any year in the 10+ years I've edited this magazine. To a man (and woman) these CIOs, and the IT departments they head, largely demonstrate none of the above traits.
So why is this drivel, this inaccurate stereotyping, allowed to persist? I think because it's allowed to go unanswered. And I think it's time CIOs everywhere start disabusing the people that matter of these untrue notions. I believe remaining silent will do you no good. It's time to respond: in writing when an article in a magazine or newspaper takes these observations as gospel and verbally when someone starts rattling them off at a conference, seminar or - God forbid - the water cooler.
The time has come for advocacy, to right the misconceptions. Because, ladies and gentlemen, if you don't speak up, you'll be consigned to the trash heap of oblivion. Your peers will not be the CFO or COO, instead your pals will be the heads of procurement and facilities.
And that's a dreary enough thought to make anyone weary.
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