I’ll preface this with YES, YOU’VE HEARD (OR READ) IT ALL BEFORE. But please read on because I believe the time is ripe for action.
Back on May 26 The Australian Financial Review ran a story containing the following observations. I’ve made it into a bit of a fill-in-the-blank quiz. Other than the X,Y and Z, the words are verbatim. See if you can figure out what X,Y and Z are:
1. “ . . . highlights two concerns: “[X] is not represented in boardrooms, and the lack of understanding among senior executives about the effectiveness of [X].”
2. “Very few [Y], and very few directors of public companies have a [X] background.”
3. “Few senior executives and directors appreciate the power of [X], with most still regarding it as a vaguely [Z] . . . and highly expendable — particularly in difficult economic times — activity.”
4. “Spend any time talking to most chief executives and managing directors and it is clear that [Y] are not regarded in the same category as finance directors, sales directors and so on.”
5. “For years . . . have said companies should regard [X] as an investment, not a cost. But few have listened or believed them.”
6. “There are many reasons for the lack of chief executives with [X] backgrounds and the attitude that [X] is [Z].”
7. “The main reason is the [X] profession’s consistent failure to prove the value of what it does and promote metrics to measure the return on [X] investment.”
The article then goes on to highlight five reasons why accountants and finance directors are more likely to be appointed to boards than [X]s. In a nutshell these were: 1) the fact that qualitative metrics to gauge effectiveness of [X] did exist, but few directors know that [X] can be measured with a robust degree of accuracy; 2) many [Y]s are happy to take credit for successful initiatives, but blame failures on everything but [X]; 3) [Y]s job-hop too frequently; 4) because [Y]s spend money, they are often seen as profligate; and, 5) few [Y]s take a holistic approach to running a business.
Sure, you knew the answers. X is marketing (not technology); Y are marketers (not CIOs) and Z is “fluffy” (not complex).
You gotta love it. It looks like marketing directors are getting even less respect than you are — after all, no one ever called IT “fluffy”.
So CIOs everywhere it’s time to seize the day and make your move for the boardroom — now, immediately, post haste. You may never get such a serendipitous moment again. The way I figure it, with marketers even further down the executive totem pole than you, the finance guys currently spending all their time either with auditors or in court, and the sales people all out at long lunches, you’ve got an opening so wide you could drive a bulldozer through it.
Go for it. Make your dash. Just don’t be fluffy.