Frank Wander’s book, Transforming IT Culture, is being published at a time when the role of the chief information officer (CIO) and information technology (IT) departments are being reevaluated by chief executive officers. Wander rightfully warns IT management that they have become too dependent on process-based solutions and need to rely more on the “human factors” to improve IT results. Indeed, we have become a society that believes that business problems can be solved through integrated processes, yet everything we have learned from research at Columbia University suggests that it is the human side—those “soft skills”—that are the real difference makers for success.
At Columbia, we have a master’s degree program in IT executive management that has relationships with over 125 of the most successful CIOs in the industry. These CIOs mentor and coach our students in hopes that they can help them become tomorrow’s IT leaders. Our program focuses more on the soft skills portion—those very things that Frank Wander emphasizes in his book: being caring, social, unlocking the potential of staff, transforming ideas into realities, establishing social networks inside your organization, to name just a few of his strategies. Wander has been a mentor in our program at Columbia and has been instrumental in helping us deliver an important message to our students: Reliance on process only will not be enough for the successful CIO of the future.
My research has rendered remarkable consistency ...