Five Things That Scare a CIO

WithHalloween right around the corner, some pranksters really get kicks out oftrying to scare people.  Do you want toknow how to scare a CIO?  Here are somethings to try.

 DarknessComputer and Jack O'Lanterns

 Try leadingin an organization without a vision. That’s pretty scary! A vision is a shared perspective that the leaderand their organization have.  It is amutual image of the future and a better tomorrow.  It is written that without vision, peopleperish.  A shared vision helps folks understandWHY they are doing what they are doing.  Thesepeople, according to Simon Sinek author of Startwith Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, “… come towork with a clear sense of WHY are less prone to giving up after a few failuresbecause they understand the higher cause.”

 Spider Webs

 Hah! TheWorld Wide Web, Internet and similar spine-chilling crawly things are stillscaring CIOs.  Except that now we haveescalated our fears because of that creepy menace called cloud computing.  Cloudcomputing is elastic, scalable, on-demand services available through theInternet.  When I was a young child, mylittle brother David would climb a tree and dip an old mayonnaise jar into atent of gypsy moth larvae – aka CATERPILLARS. He’d then pull out the most disgusting thing in the world – a jar fullof wiggly caterpillars.  Fortunately, mymother banned creepy crawlies from the house where I could always make a saferetreat.  CIOs are still trying to banthe creepy crawlies from their house.  I learnedthat it was really not so bad, I just had to be a big girl and quit letting mybrother scare me.  Grown-up CIOs will dothat naturally.


Another oldsaying tells us that nothing beats a failure but a try.  But, when you are leading major initiativesin your organization, nothing is as scary as seeing a legacy of failures frompast attempts.  What was that noise?  Oh, it was the bloodcurdling sound of projectmanagers who had to deliver results with insufficient time, budget, orpeople.  Rather than just trip over thegraves of past failures, CIOs need to take a few moments and learn from them. 

Haunted Houses

CIOs arealways trying to improve the reputation of the IT organization.  And let’s face it, there’s always room forimprovement. But sometimes, there are cultural barriers that just continue tohaunt us and leave us petrified wondering which way to run.  I tried this trick once – I have to admitthat I may have watched too many episodes of Dark Shadows as a teenager.  Ionce called a meeting and told the group we were going to have a séance.  We exorcised the ghost of the former project managerand section head.  They were stuck in thepast with old issues that were long laid to rest.  However, they kept reliving what went on beforeso much, it was almost impossible to move forward.  The séance worked and we were finally able tomove on.

Headless Horsemen

Just like theHeadless Horseman rode around wreaking havoc on the denizens of Sleepy Hollow,the bad leader will menace the organization as they run around in variousdifferent directions.  Barbara Kellermantalked about this kind of leadership as toxic. In particular, she considered the traits to either/or insular,intemperate, glib, operationally rigid, callous, inept, discriminatory, corruptor aggressive.

 There’s somuch more to add, but for now, I am finished this blog.  Alas, I think I have to sleep with the lightson tonight!

 LindaCureton, NASA CIO

4 thoughts on “Five Things That Scare a CIO”

  1. Wow.. that was quite an insight. 🙂
    Ans as you said… there is always room for improvement, a message to all of us. \m/

  2. what a fun article, I really enjoy the Halloween theme.
    This reminds me a lot of what John Maxwell says in all of his leadership books he writes.
    I have never read Simon Sinek but now I’m a look him up and read that book.
    As a company I am always looking for really cool articles that are fun like this one. Especially one of the leadership and organizing companies.

    I hope you don’t mind if I send this information to my clients.
    As well as going to Digg it.

  3. Hi Linda,
    some thing excellent I have read just now before – that is your page, keep writing about such a nice idea because I always read it and follow the rule WWW (why/what/when) for vision.
    Please browse abut ( free site for student)
    It’s been fun to be here.
    Thanks again but turn off the lights before sleeping!

  4. Thanks Linda! I agree that this season has heightened my awareness of the ghouls and zombies in federal IT – some of them are govies and some of them are contractors. The good news is that there are still a lot of red-blooded govies and contractors willing to support a vision.

    Which brings up a question: how does a CIO *develop* a vision, and then the follow-on question: how does a CIO *publish* a vision?

    Thanks again for using this blog to reach out to us working class IT staff members, please keep the posts coming.


Comments are closed.