Time for CIOs to figure it out

Time management for CIOs is easy to compute: just think '30-30-30-10', says Todd McGregor.

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By  Todd McGregor Published  February 1, 2007

With the exception of possibly the CEO, the CIO's business calendar is the most difficult to manage. CIOs should balance time management in ways that do not deprive any key constituents of essential time. Each stakeholder group is equally important, and a disproportionate allocation of the CIO's focus and attention will be detrimental to the enterprise and to the CIO's success.

Forrester's 30-30-30-10 model forces disciplined balance across constituents, which are classified into four groups: above, across, below, and yourself. This time model will keep IT front-of-mind in the business and allow CIOs to do what they do best: proving and delivering IT value to the enterprise.

Our model is based on the premise that there are four areas where CIOs must direct their time: above, across, below, and with yourself. Sounds simple but putting this into practice requires a paradigm shift in how CIOs think about and plan their calendar. It's important to note that this is not merely about the time spent with these constituents. It is highly unlikely that a CIO will spend 3 hours a day with the CEO. Instead, this is time invested on behalf of each constituent. CIOs must distribute their energy with deliberate balance because constituents that are:

Above the CIO direct the CIO's agenda:

This group should expect and receive 30% of the CIO's attention. This constituency can be the board of directors, audit committee, CEO, and the senior executive team. Time invested with this group of CIO stakeholders builds credibility, proves the enterprise value of IT, enables the CIO to become an architect of corporate strategy, and develops the CIO's ability to deal from a position of strength.

Across from the CIO are the constituents of IT organisation results:

Demanding another 30% of the CIO's time, this constituency is made up of peers, CxO executive colleagues, and key vendors. CIOs may rely heavily on team members to work closely with these other groups, which, while necessary, is insufficient to ensure that a CIO fully understands key business issues and concerns.

Below the CIO make up the team that collectively delivers IT value to the business:

Requiring another 30%, this group is the CIO's own organisation. For CIOs, time invested with their own organisation provides the leadership for IT to perform effectively, deliver on expectations, and to run like a well-oiled machine. Sometimes, CIOs are so busy working with other execs and above, the ‘well-oiled machine' becomes badly in need of management maintenance - and this becomes all too apparent to those outside of IT.

You - CIOs need time to restore and keep perspective:

The CIO should reserve 10% of business time for strategising, perspective setting, and reflection. This time should be used for consultation with mentors and coaches and dialogue with trusted colleagues and business role models. This should also include self-assessment as to which behaviors and relationships are working well and which are not. This time contributes greatly to the CIO's effectiveness.

CIOs should deliberately organise calendars in a 30-30-30-10 distribution to ensure that constituents are pleased with IT and that IT is looking ahead. No portion of the CIO's time should ever exceed 40%. The risk of imbalance inevitably results in issues surfacing with one constituency or another.

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