The Demise and Rise of the Honest CIO

The role that honesty plays in the trials, tribulations, and triumphs for the modern IT leader.

“I can’t tell my board that. They’ll never fund the project."

While this is an anonymous quote, it is a real quote nonetheless. A few years back, I was serving as an advisor to a CIO who asked me to assess a large project they were about to start. After completing my review, I gave him my frank assessment: The project was going to take three times as long and cost three times as much as he was projecting.

Without saying the words, he basically told me that he knew that was the case, but that he could never sell a project of that size and scope to his board. So instead, they presented a “different version of the truth."

I wish that I could believe that this was an isolated incident. But the reality is that this has long been par for the course in executive suites across the globe. When executive management can’t handle the whole truth, they’re presented with a partial truth. But in order to fully resolve a problem, one must confront it, not bypass it entirely. In my eyes, being honest about the real state of technology projects is the only way to get things done.

For the latest episode of The Transform IT Show, I sat down with Rich Roseman. Rich was the CIO at News Corp and 21st Century Fox and was the IT executive at the helm when News Corp split itself into two independent, publicly held companies. His story about what this took, and how he decided to take both companies to the cloud in the process, is fascinating in its own right. But what I found even more fascinating was his contention that his secret career weapon was actually his willingness to be honest with everyone as he went.

He shared how his willingness to tell it like it was became a key personal differentiator and enabled him to hit crazy deadline after crazy deadline because he knew what was really going on around him. What he found was that honesty begat honesty. I found it intriguing, enlightening, and inspiring. It gave me hope for how the future of our industry will unfold.

If you haven’t yet seen the episode, become a fan and watch the full interview on digitalfuture.tv.