How CIOs Cope When the Going Gets Tough

Edward Prewitt, for HealthLeaders Media , January 3, 2012

If there is some solace, it may be that other CIOs have foundered on these rocks before you, and have come back with a handful of strategies for coping:

Focus on the foundation. Many CIOs have observed that balky email systems and network downtime do more to undermine the credibility of IT than just about anything else, no matter how mundane you might consider them. Real-time dashboards now allow you to be transparent about IT services delivery. Of course, transparency also means accountability.

Manage expectations. Of course your users want everything yesterday, and they want it free. Wouldn't you? CIOs across many industries have adopted various approaches to improve contact?business analysts, IT governance meetings, and IT marketing campaigns, to name a few.

But successful measures generally boil down to communicating what is realistic versus what would require a new infrastructure, to understanding what people really need to do, and to saying "yes, but" rather than no.

Gain a seat at the table. This phrase, along with the word "alignment," is sometimes used wistfully to envision a nirvana where the CIO is consulted on all important business decisions, and IT and its business-side partners march in lockstep. In reality, a seat at the executive table is usually hard-won and requires constant work to prove the value of IT.

Even without such a seat, you can work to show that you're a willing partner with business departments, physicians, and partners to enable them to do what they should be doing.

Agile management. Not agile IT, necessarily. Your IT department must be able to respond quickly to crises, new demands, and new technologies.

What's missing from this list? Technology?which is simply the means to the ends that your organization seeks. Although it helps to understand technology, if only to know when a vendor is trying to snow you, in the end, the job of healthcare technology leaders is to help lead the organization. That's a job they share with all CIOs.


Edward Prewitt is the Editorial Director of HealthLeaders Media.

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