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Adventures of an IT Leader – Austin, Nolan, O’Donnell

IT and business units stereotypically do not mesh, whether it is the nerds in the basement, or the inpatient business unit. Adventures of an IT Leader is a surprising read from the Harvard Business Press, given that it is a book on tech leadership. Written as a novel, it details the transition of a VP of Sales thrust into the role of CIO.

Anyone who has had to liase between IT and a business unit know the challenges involved. IT professionals traditionally do not understand business needs, and business users do not understand the complexities of an IT environment. This leads to frustration on both sides with productivity decreased tremendously.  Although these barriers are decreasing with the average user adopting technology quicker, there are still quite a few areas of frustration.

Adventures of an IT Leader shows that IT leadership is still about business management. Any abled manager should be able to lead an IT organization as long as they are able to keep an open mind, trust their subordinates, and learn what they do not know. As the protagonist is thrust in the role of CIO he believes that his career is over, his dreams of being a COO/CEO are dashed; but, he quickly realizes through interactions with his staff that tech knowledge drives the business and makes him a better business manager.

  • Know what you don’t know
  • Skill and talent management
  • Vendor Management
  • Beware the lone genius
  • Harness the power of new technologies
  • Always tell your boss bad news first
  • Effectively communicating IT-related business issues to business managers requires systematic effort.

If any of the points above look familiar they should, these are traditional business management points. It is time that we take the mysticism out of IT and business managers start to learn as much as they can about tech (hint, technology is not going away!)

This novel is highly recommended for IT and business managers alike in order to break down communication barriers. Please read with an open mind and you will reap the rewards.

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