Chapter 3

The Strategic Advocacy Mindset

Chapters 1 and 2 established the core challenge confronting chief information officers (CIOs)—namely, effectively engaging with senior executives in the strategic conversations taking place and integrating technology as a driver into these conversations. In the words of Chris Scalet, the former CIO at Merck for many years, “I would always start the conversation in terms of what is the meaning for the business. They are never IT conversations or IT projects; they are always business enabler projects.” As noted in Chapter 1, the CIO usually does not get visibility at an enterprise level. Chris Scalet and other successful CIOs get their seat at the table because they understand the business model and strategy of the organization and bring valuable insights for shaping strategy going forward.

According to Scalet, the CIO needs to be perceived as a businessperson who understands information technology (IT) and aligning it with the business. What we have argued in Chapter 2 as integrating IT as a driver of the business. The CIO needs to be stimulating dialogues with other senior executives. As also noted by Scalet, “Being around matters.” Communicating and building strategic relationships with other senior executives is the most important key for success as a CIO. However, establishing and leveraging these relationships requires overcoming the widely held perception noted in Chapter 1 of IT executives and managers as “techies.” This entails bringing ...

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