Calling IT Leaders: We Are Not Alone

By Charles Araujo  |  Updated 02-13-2013 | Posted 02-12-2013

Calling IT Leaders: We Are Not Alone

By Charles Araujo

Somewhere along the way, my focus changed. I stopped caring about titles like CIO and senior vice president--and I started caring more about the people behind the titles. I began to focus on what I call the "IT leader" and stopped defining that moniker by a title or role and instead by an attitude, an outlook and a desire to make a difference.

I believe the world of IT as we have known it is dead and we are entering a new era for IT organizations. It will be an era defined by a whole new set of operating principles. Most significantly, it will be defined by a new kind of IT leader who will fill its ranks: A leader who doesn’t accept the status quo and is intent on reshaping the IT organization into one that finally fulfills its true promise.

CIO Insight has offered me an opportunity to write a series of articles. In my book, The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change, I lay out a vision of what this new era will look like and the type of IT professional that will be needed for IT organizations to remain relevant. If you are one of these IT leaders (and I believe we all have it in us to be one), you will be on the front lines of this fundamental shift. I want this article series to be about you.

When people talk to me about The Quantum Age of IT, I tend to hear some version of “It’s like you crawled inside my head and read my mind. I have been thinking these things for a long time, but I thought I was alone--and maybe crazy.” One person described The Quantum Age of IT as a “self-help” book for the IT professional--and he assured me that he meant that in a good way! I believe a large number of us understand that everything in IT is changing. We can see the ground is rapidly shifting beneath our feet.

I believe that you see what is happening and want to be a part of the change. I believe that you are ready to “take up the mantle” and lead us into a new, exciting and uncharted future. If you are, I hope this article series can help equip you for your journey.

The journey is going to be long and difficult. I wish I could tell you that it won’t be--that it would be easy. But it just isn’t true. While you are not alone and a lot of people are in this with you, there are many more who have no idea what is going on and frankly don’t want to hear it. They are happily ensconced in their world of bits and bytes, and blithely go from day to day ignoring the reality that is appearing all around them. They don’t want to believe that everything is changing, or maybe they just don’t see it. But whatever the cause, they are going to resist everything you try to accomplish. Your efforts to change the IT organization will be met with everything from indifference to outright anger. I suspect you’ve already run into some of this. I’ve got bad news. It’s going to get worse.

But while the journey will be tough, it’s a journey that we must make. We can do it together. We will learn from each other. We will encourage each other. We will 

Calling IT Leaders: We Are Not Alone

make progress one step at a time. And we won’t stop until we have led our organizations into the future. Deal?

If you are just tuning in, this may seem a bit overwhelming. The good news is that these waters are not as uncharted as they may seem to be. We’ve been here before and we have friends, like John Thorp, who can help guide us.

Thorp is the author of The Information Paradox. Published in 1998, it is considered by many to be a classic. It was certainly one of the first books to talk about the business value of IT investments and to realize that value requires what I call “intimate collaboration” between IT and the business. Along the same lines, Gene Kim and his cohorts at IT Revolution Press have authored a new book called The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win. Making the concepts of DevOps easily accessible, they offer a roadmap to how the factions in IT can work together, and work with the business customer, to deliver the kind of value that Thorp describes.

But it is not just authors and “thought leaders” who are here for us. We are also here for each other. There are people like Matt Hooper, a co-host of the popular “ITSM Weekly” podcast that is heard by more than 40,000 people each month. Hooper, a former CIO, is passionate about connecting people. An early believer in social media, he is part of a network of folks who are actively looking for ways to build a vibrant, global community of IT professionals.

Speaking of communities, do you know Will Lassalle? His 4,000 Twitter followers watch as he unabashedly pursues his goal to become the “Next Great CIO.”  Making his way up the corporate ladder, Lassalle candidly shares his experiences, challenges and lessons learned. We also have people like Frank Wander, the former CIO of Guardian Life. In his new book, Transforming IT Culture, he has written what may be one of the most unique lines in the world of IT: “Simply put, today’s business/IT union is a mature relationship in which neither love nor intimacy has been achieved.” Who talks about “love” in the world of IT? But Wander, along with folks like Dennis Drogseth of EMA and Chris Dancy of BMC, are beginning to usher in a new conversation about the “humanity” of IT. It is a conversation that is desperately needed.

Yes, our journey will be difficult and long, but it will also be an adventure. It is a journey in which we are in command of our own destiny. It is a future that we are free to shape, if we are willing to step up and seize it. If we are willing to become true IT leaders.

We will do it together. We will have an impact. We will make a difference. We are IT leaders--and we are not alone.


About the Author

Charles Araujo is the founder and CEO of The IT Transformation Institute, which is dedicated to helping IT leaders transform their teams into customer-focused, value-driven learning organizations. He is the author of the book 
The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change, is presently at work on two new books. Araujo is also the creator of DeepRoots, an organizational change methodology designed for IT teams. He frequently speaks and writes on a wide range of subjects related to his vision of the future of IT. You can follow him on Twitter as @charlesaraujo.