Just when I think I’ve accounted for every CIO paradox, a new one rears its head. For example: You have accountability for all internal systems, yet you must spend more time with external customers.
“Whether CIOs like it or not, they have dramatic influence over the external customer’s experiences,” says Don Martin, CIO and eCMO at Armstrong World Industries. “If you do not have direct relationships with those customers, you are not equipped to do your job.”
Unlike other paradoxes, this doesn’t sound tough to solve: Just call a few good customers and take them to lunch. But as is often the case with IT leadership, there’s much more to it than that.
Pick your team. “Not every IT professional can talk to the customer,” says Stewart McCutcheon, CIO of Nalco. “The first step is to understand your IT organization and tap into their natural communication skills.” McCutcheon chose people for his customer-facing team who had started out in business and had experience working in sales. “We also set up a mentoring program so that IT leaders with the most experience could coach those who had a desire to learn.”