Global CIO: The Myth Of The Social-Misfit, Business-Bozo CIO

Piling on to the popular myth that CIOs know tech but nothing else, a new study's flawed conclusions show that the real know-nothings are the researchers.

Bob Evans, Contributor

May 24, 2010

3 Min Read

---"Based on our research, it's clear that most CIOs don't have the broad business understanding, strategic vision and interpersonal skills that it takes to run a company or at least play a bigger role in running one."

---"IT managers are seriously deficient in their knowledge of strategy."

---"IT managers possess poor synthesis skills—that is, the ability to pull together all the available information to solve a business problem or achieve a business goal."

---"On one level, we haven't found IT professionals to be bad communicators. They speak well and, in general, exhibit a helpful and supportive attitude. Our conclusion is that the common belief that IT people don't communicate effectively is due to the absence of good questioning, listening and sales skills."

---"We have found that very few of the students who have attended our program have strong leadership skills."

---"In our experience, IT managers know what characterizes strong relationships, but lack the skills to build such relationships at work."

I particularly liked a followup point to this last spurious claim that implies that CIOs have the real-world awareness of a 3-year-old: "For example, these managers may correctly identify trust as one of the most important characteristics of a strong relationship. But they don't fully understand how easily trust can be eroded—by not returning a phone call, for instance, or by being late for an appointment."

At long last, there it is—the key to unlocking the essential business-technology dynamic: you bozo CIOs just need to stop ignoring phone messages and stop showing up late for meetings!

But do not despair: the authors/researchers have been gracious enough to offer some salvation to you clueless morons as they ask, "So, how can CIOs and IT managers acquire these skills?" And while it may shock you, the answer offered by these three entrenched members of Santa Clara University is a program involving—wait for it!—classroom instruction from academics!

To bring this sorry tale to a close, let me play off the headline over the researchers' Journal piece and propose this headline for an article about members of the professorial class who engage in bait-and-switch research: "Why Irrelevant Research Does More Harm Than Good."

Coming tomorrow in our week-long series on "IT's Golden Opportunity": real and credible academic insight on IT and the CIO based on recent observations from a leading researcher in the field: Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT.

RECOMMENDED READING: Global CIO: The Golden Age Of IT Has Begun: 6 Reasons Why Global CIO: The Top 10 CIO Issues For 2010 Global CIO: Welcome To The CIO Revolution: A New IT Manifesto Global CIO: Hewlett-Packard's Hurd Says Bad IT Means A Bad CEO Global CIO: Do CIOs Still Matter? Global CIO: Apple's Steve Jobs Torpedoes Another Stale Business Model GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Bob Evans


Bob Evans is senior VP, communications, for Oracle Corp. He is a former InformationWeek editor.

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