Computers and Technology
Submitted By howe0720
Early in the book, Jim Barton gets a valuable piece of advice: "You've got to know what you don't know." Why is it so important for CIOs to recognize their own shortcomings?
Nolan: Good general managers know what they don't know. They build skills to create an environment around them--including people they trust, outside sources, self-education--to ensure they don't make huge mistakes by not appreciating aspects of other functional areas. This is truly a unique management capability.
Just as a CEO can come from a number of functional backgrounds, in IT, the general management skills are critically important, but so is the ability to understand what's unique to IT. Whoever is in that position needs to do [his or her] homework, and Jim Barton is exemplary in accomplishing that requirement.
Austin: At one point in the book, Barton's predecessor, Bill Davies, lectures him on knowing everything before he goes to see the CEO. Davies has a different set of inclinations. He's not particularly interested in having a conversation with the CEO.
There's that notion out there about what it takes to be a manager--that you're somebody who brings solutions, not questions. That's outmoded. It's part of knowing what you don't know. If you're a leader and you don't want others to know what you don't know, you're going to dig yourself a hole.
Nolan: When I was running a consulting firm [Nolan Norton & Co.], we would provide the IT background and training for really smart MBAs and others we hired into the firm. They would go to organizations and find that the CEOs and senior management were listening to them.
Because of that, they made a giant leap in imagination: They would wander over and give advice on marketing or whatever areas they didn't have the background for. They lost all credibility with the senior management team. The message they sent was that they really…...