How Does a CIO earn $1M per year?

In today’s knowledge-based economy, the functions of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) are becoming increasingly complex and multi-dimensional. This complexity has resulted in high turn-over, leading to the nickname, Career Is Over.  In spite of this, some twenty-two CIOs/CTOs topped the $1 million annual compensation mark in 2010, according to Janco’s research. With this remuneration comes greater expectations.  These folks better be providing significant value to the business. How do executives contribute more than they already have?

Generally, working more hours is not an option.  This leaves working smarter. Thinking and acting more strategically will differentiate top tier managers from their less resourceful counterparts, allowing them to increase value. According to the research company Ovum, in their report from Dec 2011, “Big data analytics, security and cloud computing will be three of the most significant drivers of technological change in 2012.” It also predicts “that CIOs will become major enablers of innovation for the business, playing a central role in operational & commercial strategy.”

Sounds wonderful, but IT departments are undergoing yet another massive upheaval, led by cloud computing, social media, and IT consumerisation. Terms like BYOD or BYOS (Bring Your Own Devise/Software) are commonplace as the personal computer gives way to personal mobile devices like smart phones and pads.  These trends, coupled with the proliferation of social media, bring instant transparency and creates a new level of user demands with new security issues. Managing through these changes while delivering is a tall order.

This month’s letter will give some tips to help you lead and navigate your organization into the next decade:

  1. Decisions – Be decisive:

Making snap decisions can be more cost effective than taking significant time to evaluate all aspects of a decision. The issue of decision-making is being considered on a much wider level than by only productivity gurus. The New York Times posted a column from John Tierney on their website titled “The Price of Dithering.” Dithering really can be quite expensive. An inability to move forward on a decision or project has a hidden opportunity cost that does not appear on an income statement. In addition, the financial upkeep required to have your team ready to spring into action once a decision has been made is high. Avoiding these price tags is a matter of improving your ability to make rapid fire decisions and move on. Taking 6 months to save the company 10% on the cost of a project could cost twice in unseen costs  than it saves.

2. Communications – Be direct

Use clear, concise, and complete communication with your staff and customers.  By implementing direct communication with management of large companies, you can recover an additional 13 percent of their time (spent on planning or other high value activities). Such strategic thinking builds innovative businesses with increased profitability, happy employees and satisfied customers. Ensure your communications have sufficient context to assist your team in understanding decisions and rationalize initiatives.

3. Simplicity – Less is more

Theoretical scientists spend their lives looking for simple answers or solutions. The reason is complexity is difficult to recreate. Take a recipe, the easiest and quickest are the recipes you will use most often. Business processes are the same.  Humans are inherently lazy and will seek the path of least resistance.  Simple solutions will always be more appealing than highly complex ones, even if the simple one is not quite as good. It is often more difficult to design simple processes initially, but it has the biggest pay-off and highest adoption rate.

4. Plan for the future.

This seems self-evident, but so many fall pray to the feeling that they do not have enough time to create a plan. By creating a road map of where you want to take your organization, you significantly increase the odds of actually getting there. Without planning, managers fail to make effective decisions, which leads to chaos and inefficiency.  By having a plan in place, you make decisions faster  and can choose or select components based on whether they align with the intended direction you want to take your organization.

Many things are changing around us and we are entering new phase: cloud and mobile are the keys to this evolution.  Yet many things remain universal.  All humans desire subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, leisure, creation, identity and freedom. Great managers seek to provide these to their team even during the greatest technological changes.

Do You Have Too Many Nodes in Your Network?

You came in to work this morning and answered emails, tweets, voicemails, messages, updates, check-ins, texts, questions, phone calls, pins, shout-outs, uploads, appointments, posts, and shares.  You get the point. But are you really connecting with anyone? Would it be more effective to spend that time with someone at a coffee shop or connecting with coworkers in the lunch room?  Social Media has made it easy to attach yourself to people; but is there any value in these interactions? Are you a Broadcaster or a Networker? Broadcasters are people who simply send information out; networkers are those who actually interact and communicate on an individual or group basis with their connections.  Ask yourself which achieves your goal.

I’m a big supporter of social media both personally and professionally, but it only works if you know why you are there, have a plan, and are honest with yourself and your connections about why you are there.  With this in mind, how many connections can you really manage?

Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn and Google+: These 5 organizations occupy 90% of the Social Media landscape.  How many are you registered with? How many connections do you have if you add them up? Think about this list:

  • Facebook – 100 friends
  • Twitter – 150 followers
  • LinkedIn – 300 connections

If you take these and factor a 30% overlap, you are still left with over 385 unique connections. Manageable, but you see people with 12,000 followers, 500+ connections (which can mean 800, 1000 or more) and 300 friends. How does one have a relationship with that many people?  How deep is their relationship with them? What do they know about them?  Do they know where they live, their phone number, or their hair colour?

Social Media is still a new experiment and no one really knows where it is going.  It is an international phenomenon due to the advent of the World Wide Web.  Prior to the internet, Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist from England, theorized there was a limit to the size of a social group based on the size of a creature’s neo-cortex. When applied to humans he arrived at a number, 150 individuals, which was coined “Dunbar’s Number”, the theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain a stable social relationship. In 2011, Goncalves, Perra & Vespignani (random scientists) applied this to Twitter. Their findings confirmed this theory: users can entertain only a maximum of 200 stable relationships.  A company called Path is using this number to build their social media network, limiting the number of connections one can have. If you have 150 connections, you must lose 1 to add 1.

Keeping your contacts between 100 and 200 may seem impossible. Unfriending on FB is still frowned upon in spite of the best efforts of Jimmy Kimmel (the “Unfriend Day”). People randomly follow you on Twitter & try to connect via LinkedIn.

Well, what is a person to do? Managing your connections appropriately means having a social media plan and sticking to it. This will determine where you will focus your time and who your connections should be.

Here are 7 tips on managing social media:

  1. Don’t join everything.
  2. Drop people who have dormant accounts. (Don’t follow someone on twitter who hasn’t tweeted in 6 months)
  3. Figure out what you want from social media. (Are you broadcaster or a networker?)
  4. Fix the amount of time spent and stick to it. (e.g. an hour a day and no more)
  5. Cross-pollinate your social media sites and manage multiple accounts with one action using social media dashboards such as HootSuite (e.g. your tweets get posted on your FB Wall).
  6. Have a content plan. (What information would your audience want to hear – add value, not what you had for lunch)
  7. Review the ROI of your social media foot print every 2-3 months.

The number of connections you want to maintain, be it 100 or 1000, depends on what social media plans you develop and the type of social user you wish to be.