Preparing for IT Leadership
E xc e r p t e d fro m
The Adventures of an IT Leader
Robert D. Austin, Richard L. Nolan, and Shannon O’Donnell
Harvard Business Press Boston, Massachusetts
Copyright 2009 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America This chapter was originally published as chapter 1 of The Adventures of an IT Leader, copyright 2009 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior permission of the publisher. Requests for permission should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to Permissions, Harvard Business School Publishing, 60 Harvard Way, Boston, Massachusetts 02163. You can purchase Harvard Business Press books at booksellers worldwide. You can order Harvard Business Press books and book chapters online at www.harvardbusiness.org/press, or by calling 888-500-1016 or, outside the U.S. and Canada, 617-783-7410.
The Adventures of an IT Leader invites readers to “walk in the shoes” of a new CIO as he spends a difﬁcult year learning effective information technology leadership. Experienced cumulatively, this eighteenchapter story gains dramatic momentum, and later chapters provide opportunities to revisit key IT management issues in more depth. However, chapters can also be read independently or in smaller batches as suits the needs of particular readers. To facilitate this, we provide the following contextual information.
As the story begins in chapter 1, the IVK Corporation, a midsize ﬁnancial services ﬁrm, is attempting a turnaround following a period of slowing business performance1. The stock price has fallen substantially as investors have adjusted their expectations of the ﬁrm’s growth. An aggressive new CEO, Carl Williams, takes over and assigns a new management team. In the process, the former head of Loan Operations, Jim Barton, is appointed CIO. Barton has no background in IT—none at all. The story 1
The IVK Corporation and its staff are ﬁctional, but the contents of the book are based on the authors’years of ﬁrsthand experience with diverse companies and managers.
follows Barton as he ﬁgures out what effective IT management is all about and deals with issues and challenges of the job. These broadly include, by chapter number: • The challenges of information technology leadership (1–3) • Managing the IT budget (4) • Maximizing the value of IT (5) • Approaches to project management (6) • Managing large projects (7) • Prioritizing among a portfolio of projects (8) • Board-level governance (9) • Management and aftermath of a security crisis (10–11) • Communication and interaction with the boss and peers (12) • Analyzing emerging technologies (13) • Arranging and managing partnerships with vendors (14) • Managing highly talented employees (15) • Investing in infrastructure to move toward standardization and innovation (16) • Managing risk (17) • Job opportunities for IT leaders (18)
The Main Characters
In order of appearance . . .
Jim Barton: The new CIO of IVK. A talented and ambitious general manager, formerly the head of Loan Operations. Barton knows little about IT; he sets out to learn quickly and to lead the IT department toward renewed growth, stability, and strategic partnership within the company—but not without facing serious challenges.
Series Overview Carl Williams: This bold turnaround CEO is high on ambition and short on patience. Maggie Landis: A savvy management consultant and Barton’s girlfriend, she often provides Barton with valuable insight, references, and perspectives. The kid: Wise beyond his years, this twenty-something tech nerd,...