Secret CIO: When Reboot Has A Silver Lining - InformationWeek
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John McGreavy
John McGreavy
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Secret CIO: When Reboot Has A Silver Lining

The 3 minutes that my netbook takes to restart prove critical to my effectiveness as a CIO. Here's why.

I use a netbook as my main PC. It provides me with the best balance of size and portability, battery life, and usability for both office and business travel. I often throw a tablet into my bag when travelling, so that I can pull it out at the right times and look relevant and all, but I use the netbook for my real work.

I run all of the usual suspects on the netbook--Outlook, Office, etc.-- under Windows 7 Professional. I suspend the unit each night, and usually reboot it only for a Windows update. It's very reliable, and performance is terrific.

Occasionally, however, Outlook gets a bit screwy and I have to reboot the machine, just like the old days. It was about 4 p.m. on a recent sunny Friday afternoon, and I hit restart. The one drawback with this netbook is that it takes up to 3 minutes, start to finish. I didn’t want to sit in my office for the next 3 minutes, so I took a walk through the building to see who was working on a summer Friday afternoon.

The place was pretty empty, but Jeff, our VP of operations, was just leaving his office, on his way to a customer event for the evening. I asked if he had seen the emails I had circulated recently concerning inventory write-downs.

Jeff has a pet peeve about the way we handle miscellaneous inventory, and he thinks some sort of RF tracking technology will solve the problem. I'm not sold on the solution, but I know we have a problem with too many write-downs. Jeff and I then had a lengthy discussion about process change at the company, the need for more discipline, and how technology will work only if we adopt a new approach to handling inventory. And I also assured Jeff that if it's the right investment to make, we will invest in the new tracking technology.

We didn’t solve any problems of the world that afternoon. However, it's moments like those that are very important to my effectiveness in the company. If you ask Jeff his opinion about the job I'm doing, he will reference the hallway chats like the one we had on that Friday afternoon. He knows that I will take the time to drop by, to talk about an issue that's important to him. I don’t wait for issues to escalate to a VP level.

I know this is an important aspect of my job, but too often I let my time get consumed with daily IT issues. This day, I took the time because it takes Windows 3 minutes to reboot on my netbook.

Thanks, Microsoft, for getting me out of my office. You help me be more effective at my job--for reasons you couldn't possibly have intended.

The author, the real-life CIO of a billion-dollar-plus company, shares his experiences under the pseudonym John McGreavy. Got a Secret CIO story of your own to share? Contact

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