Book review: The CIO Edge

Book review: The CIO Edge

Summary: The position of Chief Information Officer (CIO) hasn't existed for all that long, and so there aren't a lot of manuals explaining how to do it. The CIO Edge attempts to be that manual.

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The position of Chief Information Officer (CIO) hasn't existed for all that long, and so there aren't a lot of manuals explaining how to do it. The CIO Edge attempts to be that manual.

Like so many of today's business books, The CIO Edge is PowerPoint-ready and comes complete with a slogan — 'Soft skills produce hard results' — and a set of 'takeaway' principles the book intends readers to apply in real life. Unlike so many of today's business books, however, The CIO Edge explains the methodology by which the authors conducted their research, chose their interviewees and tested the theories they're promoting. Some of the most interesting stuff is quotes from CIOs they have identified as particularly good examples of the genre.

The authors' main point is that the job of CIO is primarily about leading people. You don't need to know every last detail about technology, but you must be able to collaborate, to think more about the future of technology's impact within your company than about the future of technology itself, and to build the kind of team that's so good the company doesn't really notice when you leave. Is that counter-intuitive?

Many of the CIOs' quotes contain practical advice. For example, there's the CIO who develops IT literacy across his organisation by studying a different new technology, gadget or trend every quarter. He never actually makes a formal presentation, but opportunistically works what he's learned into casual conversations — in the lift, during the wait time before meetings, and so on. By doing this, he believes he's increasing the technical literacy across his organisation without boring people. There are countless other bits of practical experience scattered throughout the book.

A couple of quibbles. The authors would have done well to add a second index of interviewees. It's also a shame that the book's blog has no follow-ups. And, as so often, all the examples are derived from American rather than British corporate culture.

The CIO Edge: Seven Leadership Skills You Need to Drive Results By Graham Waller, George Hallenbeck and Karen Rubenstrunk Harvard Business Review Press 220 pages ISBN: 978-1-4221-6637-6 £21.99

Wendy M Grossman

Topic: Reviews

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