The Meaning of CIO Squared


An article in CIO Magazine (1 March 2012) describes the term “CIO Squared” as “the combination of chief information officer and chief innovation officer,” and goes on to provide examples of CIOs that are both of these.

While I respect this definition of the term and think innovation is certainly critical to the success of any CIO, and for that matter any organization in our times, I have been writing a column called CIO Squared for a couple of year now in Public CIO magazine and have other thoughts about what this really means.

Moreover, I think the article in CIO missed the point of what “squared” really implies

Like the notion that 1+1=3, CIO Squared is a concept that the CIO is not just multi-faceted and -talented (that would be 1+1=2), but rather that the CIO integrates multiple facets and roles and synergizes these so that they have an impact greater than the sum of the parts (i.e. 1+1=3).

I see the CIO Squared fulfilling its potential in a couple of major ways:

– Firstly, many organizations have both a Chief Information Officer and a Chief Technology Officer–they break the “Information Technology” concept and responsibility down into its components and make them the responsibility of two different people or different roles in the organization. One is responsible for the information needs of the business and the other brings the technology solutions to bear on this.

However, I believe that fundamentally, a truly successful CIO needs to be able to bridge both of these functions and wear both hats and to wear them well. The CIO should be able to work with the business to define and moreover envision their future needs to remain competitive and differentiated (that’s the innovation piece), but at the same time be able to work towards fulfilling those needs with technology and other solutions.

Therefore, the role split between the CIO as the “business guy” and the CTO as the “technology whiz” has to merge at some point back into an executive that speaks both languages and can execute on these.

That does not mean that the CIO is a one-man team–quite the contrary, the CIO has the support and team that can plan and manage to both, but the CIO should remain the leader–the point of the spear–for both.

Another way to think of this is that CIO Squared is another name for Chief Information Technology Officer (CITO).

– A second notion of CIO Squared that I had when putting that moniker out there for my column was that the CIO represents two other roles as well–on one hand, he/she is a consummate professional and business person dedicated to the mission and serving it’s customer and stakeholders, and on the other hand, the CIO needs to be a “mensch”–a decent human being with integrity, empathy, and caring for others.

This notion of a CIO or for that matter any CXO–Chief Executive Officer or the “X” representing any C-suite officer (CEO, COO, CFO, CHCO, etc.)–needs to be dual-hatted, where they perform highly for the organization delivering mission results, but simultaneously do so keeping in mind the impact on people and what is ultimately good and righteous.

Therefore, the CIO Squared is one who can encompass both business and technology roles and synthesize these for the strategic benefit of the organization, but also one who is mission-focused and maintains integrity and oneness with his people and G-d above who watches all.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>CEOs and COOs – Enterprise Architecture has Elements of Both


A Chief Executive Officer (CEO), or chief executive, is the highest-ranking corporate officer, administrator, corporate administrator, executive, or executive officer, in charge of total management of a corporation, company, organization or agency.

A Chief Operating Officer or Chief Operations Officer (COO) is a corporate officer responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the corporation. The COO is one of the highest ranking members of an organization, monitoring the daily operations of the company and reporting to the Board of Directors. The COO is usually an executive or senior vice president. (Wikipedia)

The Wall Street Journal, 22 October 2003, reports in an article entitled “A Different Animal Seeks the No. 1 Post; Often It’s Not No. 2” that the CEO and COO are very different “animals.”

CEOs have the vision and strategize; COOs manage day-to-day operations.

  • “The very talents that make a great chief operating officer—like finicky attention to detail—can get in the way when you are in the top seat. CEO’s are supposed to strategize, not micromanage.”

CEOs are outer-directed; COOs are inward-focused.

  • COOs “jobs focus them inward on the company’s problems, while CEOs spend much of their time convincing outsiders of the company’s strengths.”

CEOs function in the public eye; COOs play behind the scenes.

  • “CEOs talk about getting acclimated to the limelight. Chief operating officers say they are used to working behind the scenes and submerging their egos.”

CEOs are the company cheerleaders; COOs are more gruff and forbidding.

  • “It’s vital that a CEO consistently project a positive attitude to help keep up morale. In the No. 2 role, it was OK ‘to be more curmudgeonly.’”

User-centric EA is a hybrid of the CEO and the COO:

  • Functionally—EA is more like the CEO, in that it is strategic-focused and visionary in terms of new technologies, business process improvement, and setting the target state and transition plan.
  • Directedness—EA has elements of the CEO and COO. Like the COO, it looks internally to establish the as-is and to-be states of the organization based on capabilities, competencies, and strategies. However, like the CEO it looks externally to glean best practices and benchmarks.
  • Publicity—EA is like the CEO in being in the corporate public eye, advocating for enhanced IT planning and sound governance based on architecture principles and informed decision-making. At the same time, EA is like the COO, working behind the scenes with leaders and subject matter experts to capture pertinent information, analyze, categorize, and serve it up to the end-users.
  • Cheerleading—EA is like the CEO, a cheerleader for mission execution and results of operation, business process improvement, information sharing and accessibility, applications interoperability, technology standards, and confidentiality, integrity, availability, and privacy. EA is also like the COO gruff and to the point; taking EA information and using it to support incremental and transformative change initiatives.

>CEO and Enterprise Architecture

>An organization’s performance is closely linked to the lives and state of mind of its leadership.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), 5 September 2007 reports that based on a 10 year study of 75,000 Danish companies, profitability of companies declined after the CEO suffered from the death of a child (-21.4%), spouse (-14.7%), parent (-7.7%). [Further, the study reports that profitability actually increased when the CEO lost his/her mother-in-law (7%).]

These results are really not surprising nor or they hard to understand.

Leaders are people first—as human beings, we are all vulnerable to the tragedies of life and these affect us profoundly!

The WSJ puts it this way: “These are individuals…It’s important to understand they’re not automatons.”

The study called, “It’s All About Me” goes on to state the company’s profitability also typically fell after the CEO purchased a mansion. Researcher speculate that the leadership is either cashing out of the company (i.e. they no longer believe in the company’s future prospects) or that the leaders have become distracted by their own narcissism (i.e. enjoying their wealth rather than working hard).

For a quite a while, people have questioned the hefty executive pay packages, but as the WSJ states, perhaps these questions will be somewhat muted by these “studies [that] generally conclude CEOs do matter to their companies’ performance.”

In User-centric EA, people matter and leadership matters. If the leader is distracted or physically or emotionally wounded, the enterprise most certainly suffers. However, EA can help function as shock-absorber in the organization, since it provides for broad-based business and technical input, planning, and governance. By having the long-term mechanisms in place, such as a well researched and accepted EA plan and vetting mechanisms for how to invest corporate resources, the reliance on any single individual or individuals is lessoned. Leadership will always play a crucial part in organizational success (or failure) and as individuals we are all at the mercy of heaven above, but developing sound mechanisms by the which the organization can weather some of life’s shocks is a role EA can play.