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How To Talk Like a CIO

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the leveraging-your-aggressive-mediocrity dept.

Businesses 161

itwbennett writes "Today's CIOs speak business-buzzwords as a second language. And there's a good reason for that. There is a trend among CIOs to distance themselves from being regarded as technologists and to put themselves forward as business strategists. It boils down to one simple rule: Just as you should never be the first to mention compensation in the interview process, you should never be the first to break out the tech jargon in a business setting."

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Easy (5, Insightful)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#43746985)

Just memorise all these and mix them up as you see fit:

http://www.dack.com/web/bullshit.html [dack.com]

Re:Easy (2, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#43747109)

Believe it or not, that's the opposite of what the summary says.

Re:Easy (4, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about a year ago | (#43747159)

Bingo.

Re:Easy (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#43747207)

Which buzzword?

Re:Easy (4, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year ago | (#43747163)

Believe it or not, that's the opposite of what the summary says.

No it's not. The summary (and the article, which is essentially the same fluff as the summary repeated several times--I RTFA'd so you don't have to) says to avoid technical jargon, which has actual meaning and is therefore terrifying to people who want to be executives. The bullshit list is business jargon, which is inherently meaningless and is therefore very useful to C*Os and those who like to imagine themselves in such positions.

Re:Easy (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#43747181)

Bingo.

Re:Easy (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year ago | (#43747471)

Bingo.

I see you found this page [bullshitbingo.net] too.

Re:Easy (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year ago | (#43747273)

The summary (and the article, which is essentially the same fluff as the summary repeated several times--I RTFA'd so you don't have to) says to avoid technical jargon, which has actual meaning and is therefore terrifying to people who want to be executives

It says to avoid technical jargon, but not because it "has actual meaning". In fact, the advice it gives is just a specific application of the most basic communication advice ever, that is, "know your audience, and address what has meaning and relevance to them". Business executives don't care about the details of technology, they care about the whether and how that technology can deliver value in the context of their business problems. This isn't avoiding real meaning, its addressing relevant meaning.

If you didn't get that from TFA, you may have read it, but you certainly didn't understand it.

Re:Easy (3, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year ago | (#43747379)

If you didn't get that from TFA, you may have read it, but you certainly didn't understand it.

I'll just re-quote from the article the passage I quoted in a previous post:

The senior VP had serious technical chops, but he wasn't about to demonstrate them in front of his peers. He feared, justifiably, that if he did so he'd get classified as a techie and taken out of consideration as a possible future CEO.

Understanding this is pretty easy; if you choose not to do so, that's your business, so to speak.

Re:Easy (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748899)

The senior VP had serious technical chops, but he wasn't about to demonstrate them in front of his peers. He feared, justifiably, that if he did so he'd get classified as a techie and taken out of consideration as a possible future CEO.

Understanding this is pretty easy; if you choose not to do so, that's your business, so to speak.

True. But that says a lot about what's wrong with the world. I'm beginning to think we're headed for a new dark ages. You can't keep building your world on bulldust. Eventually the "infinite financial growth, cheating your customers is good, actually doing things is for losers that work for me" paradigm breaks down in a horrible way. Thank goodness we still (for the time being) have people that understand the technicalities, and want to create not just sell or make money.

Re:Easy (5, Insightful)

Skreems (598317) | about a year ago | (#43748367)

Business executives don't care about the details of technology, they care about the whether and how that technology can deliver value in the context of their business problems.

The problem is, those two things go hand in hand. If you don't understand the details of the technology, you're highly likely to miss a bunch of nuance in understanding how (and how much) it can solve your business problems.

Now, if you as a hypothetical executive are willing to accept that you really DON'T understand the nuance, and trust those under you that do, then things are just peachy. Except that attitude doesn't often pair with the type-A personality that inhabits the C*O world, or even the VP world. What you're left with a majority of the time is someone who thinks technical details are "beneath them", but wants to make sweeping generalizations about what tech will do for their business. Due to the points above, those generalizations are nearly always wrong, and sometimes dangerously so.

I like to use an analogy in this type of discussion: Neil Gaiman once said (I'm paraphrasing) "People think an author goes off in a room for a week and stares at a typewriter. Then magic happens, they're hit by a stroke of genius, and emerge with a completed novel, fully formed. The reality is nothing like that. It takes years of hard work from multiple people, endless revisions, and is generally the opposite of magic."

Most people can connect with that. Of course an author doesn't write a 400 page novel in a fit of genius. Of course there are editors, and revisions, and revisions on revisions. We may not have an intuitive view of what all that work actually looks like, but anyone who's not a complete twit can examine that statement of reality against their preconceived idea, and sense its correctness.

Well, technology is a lot like that. Redundant failover systems don't fall from the sky fully formed. Coding API or User Interface abstractions don't leap into existence overnight. They're painstakingly nurtured from the seed of an idea by someone who's tired of facing the same problem over and over, and grown over months or years, usually while fending off a bunch of half-interested managers and coworkers who are more interested in making themselves look smart by talking loudly than in actually understanding what's being built.

You may think that higher ups shouldn't care about that, and to a degree I suppose that's right. They shouldn't care about the minute details of every technical thing to cross their desk. But damn it, they SHOULD understand the difference between good tech and shoddy tech, and what it means to their business. Because a corporate culture starts with the C*Os. And a corporate culture where proper respect is paid to the painstaking work of building quality systems can accelerate that business in a self-reinforcing process, while a corporate culture that dismisses tech as "that geeky stuff they do with computers" will almost certainly fall behind and fail as the people who know how to build stuff well get pissed off at constantly justifying doing things "the right way" to people who don't care, and eventually quit.

To go back to the analogy... how long do you think a publishing house would stay in business with a CEO who thinks that "writing is that thing where authors go off in a room for a week and magic happens"? That's essentially what this article is tacitly saying is A-OK, and for any company that's even remotely based on technology it's just as ludicrously wrong. That kind of BS may fly today because the culture is still in flux, but in the next 20 years every one of those companies is going to get lapped by another company that understands the magnifying effect technology can have on productivity, and understands it from the top down.

Re:Easy (5, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#43749413)

The problem is, those two things go hand in hand. If you don't understand the details of the technology, you're highly likely to miss a bunch of nuance in understanding how (and how much) it can solve your business problems.

Untrue. Let us take a car example. I as CEO want to move our product from place A to place B. I also want to move myself from place A to place B.

So I ask people who know about these stuff and he will then ask me how much stuff there is going to be moved and how often. He then proposes a truck or a fleet of truck or even train or transport by boat or a combination.

For the personal transport, he will also ask a few questions and then will come up with a bicycle or a Maybach with driver or something else, depending on the answers.

Where it will go wrong if the wrong questions are asked or if I give the wrong answer, because I want to influence the answer.

e.g. if I as a CEO ask what the best Helicopter is for my daily transport, I will get an answer to THAT question. However if I live at the office, the answer to transport should have been "Walk".

And that is often the problem: People who think they know something about the technology will ask for the wrong things and then are surprised they get the wrong answers.

Very few CEOs get this. Very few are able to let go and just trust the people in their team to be qualified in their field. I have had only a few who actually said to me "I do not understand what you are trying to explain, but I trust your experience and expertise and believe you will deliver." Obviously this does not happen at the first day at work. It takes honesty from both sides. i.e. me telling when I did not achieved some goal, why and how I would prevent it in the future. Not trying to hide my ass and blame something or somebody else. My team? My fault!

It is the basic difference between being a leader and being a manager. https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits.php [stephencovey.com]

Re:Easy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43749163)

So to paraphrase your comments: They are just enabling the linguistic paradigm with respect to the synergies of their core target market?

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748349)

You just blew this paradigm right outside of the box.

Re:Easy (1)

sa1lnr (669048) | about a year ago | (#43749367)

Indeed, he/she shouldn't have gone for first post. :)

Re:Easy (5, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43747257)

Just memorise all these and mix them up as you see fit:

I tried that, but apparently they're better at it than I am... my proposal got rejected for not supporting the datamatrix foo buffer 2.0 cloud feature-rich zero-management extranet interface. The work order was to get a replacement power cord... the cleaning people let a vaccum cleaner chew on the last one...

Re:Easy (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43747459)

You didn't capitalize it correctly. That's the kiss of death.

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748095)

I'm stupider for having read this. You hurt my brain. You suck.

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747357)

I love it's marked as "Insightful" and not "Funny".

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747359)

My favorite
http://cbsg.sourceforge.net/cgi-bin/live [sourceforge.net]

Re:Easy (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | about a year ago | (#43747507)

Don't you worry about blank, let me worry about blank!

Re:Easy (4, Interesting)

pkbarbiedoll (851110) | about a year ago | (#43747673)

What I gathered from this article is that it is desireable in a coporate setting to be extroverted. Extroverts are rewarded, introverts are pocket-protector wearing peons.

No wonder everyone hates management.

Re:Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43749097)

ENGAGE KILLER EYEBALLS!

if you think my karma was bad before (5, Funny)

nopainogain (1091795) | about a year ago | (#43746995)

Today, I went to the EMC/VMware event in Baltimore. me, twentysome 50-60 year old C-levels, no technical information that could be gleaned, but a bunch of salivating million dollar budgets. I asked the engineer-presenter about his replication's bandwidth demands, he was not prepared to answer... the C-level guys asked questions like "what color is the box it comes in?" want to sound like a CIO? forget everything you know about object oriented programming, IPv6, and OSPF and Linux,, and mimic a sales-evangelist from EMC.

Re:if you think my karma was bad before (3, Insightful)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about a year ago | (#43747609)

Those are the people who extract the most wealth from companies. Their contribution? The same fucking insight you could glean by asking a 6 year old.

First post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747009)

First post! Highest sexual drive of all you losers.

Re:First post (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747943)

The thought may have been there, but you didn't quite rise up to the occasion.

Never??? (4, Funny)

drdanny_orig (585847) | about a year ago | (#43747015)

Actually, I always try to be first to break out the jargon. I find it makes the C*O's eyes glaze over, and the meeting is cut short. That's a win for me.

Re:Never??? (1)

nopainogain (1091795) | about a year ago | (#43747031)

I want to work with this guy! high-five to you drdanny

Re:Never??? (1)

Inda (580031) | about a year ago | (#43749543)

I do the same only with football bullshit jargon. None of this "getting all the ducks in a row" - whatever that means?

- We need to score from an offside position.
- The business needs to be match-fit.
- Our processes should follow the laws of the game.
- We can't just hack down the opposition and expect a penalty.

Some laugh; some snigger; some look at me with detest and that's the match winner.

Why CIO's don't talk tech... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747033)

CIO's don't talk tech jargon because they don't have a fucking clue about the actual work... That shit's beneath them.

Synergy (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747037)

It's paramount that this endeavor not fail. We need all teams to focus on the tasks at hand go create an environment conducive for business to business relationships. I spearheaded our Service Oriented cost savings initiative starting from the top down using synrgies afforded by hiring the best of the best to reduce dependence on legacy systems. Using off the shelf products is not a viable option.

Re:Synergy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747917)

You forgot vertical integration. ;p

From TFA (5, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year ago | (#43747049)

The senior VP had serious technical chops, but he wasn't about to demonstrate them in front of his peers. He feared, justifiably, that if he did so he'd get classified as a techie and taken out of consideration as a possible future CEO.

For any /.er working in an environment like that, I'd like to think this would be a sign that it was time to get the hell out.

Re:From TFA (2)

fufufang (2603203) | about a year ago | (#43747487)

The senior VP had serious technical chops, but he wasn't about to demonstrate them in front of his peers. He feared, justifiably, that if he did so he'd get classified as a techie and taken out of consideration as a possible future CEO.

For any /.er working in an environment like that, I'd like to think this would be a sign that it was time to get the hell out.

That really depends on what that VP meant by "demonstrating". If "demonstrating" means talk in technical jargons which most people can't understand, then that VP should expect loads people getting annoyed. Managers need to speak in a way so in which other people can understand. Real life is not about demonstrating one's knowledge of jargons.

You should try and get someone who does computability/complexity research to talk jargon to someone who does VHDL/Verilog hardware synthesis. They totally can't understand each other.

Re:From TFA (4, Insightful)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about a year ago | (#43747623)

And sometimes, your audience should buck the fuck up and learn a little about the things they're trying to talk about.

Re:From TFA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748641)

> And sometimes, your audience should buck the fuck up and learn a little about the things they're trying to talk about.

Even worse: Sometimes your audience should buck the up and learn a little about what it is their company actually does to make money.

There's only a certain distance that you can abstract yourself away from what actually happens before you get your head in the clouds.

Watch a few episodes of undercover boss. Even if those companies are not the "really" big ones and also ones that make money with some sort of menial labour (it is more interesting to show a boss holding a shovel than to attempt to write some C-code or cook coffee in an IT office), it is shocking to see how even the smart, likeable and good bosses have no actual clue what is actually the thing that is making them money.
And at least in the german version, every few episodes there's a boss that really has no idea what's going on "down there".

I'm sure that if you move to a company that is dealing with a much more abstract, technical product it is much, much worse. While there is a certain degree that technies have to simplfy what they talk about and need to talk more abstract to people who plan the strategy, there's a certain line that should not be crossed. If it's all babble, it is to assume your highest tier doesn't know and understand what the company actually is doing. That can only be bad.

Re:From TFA (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about a year ago | (#43748279)

Depends on the money.

Las boss was ahead of the curve with all that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747055)

Ahh... so the ex HR bigshot Director of Tech Services at my last job was ahead of the curve. Worthless bastard, ruins the place, lays off good workers and jumps ship!

Problem (1, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43747071)

...You should never be the first to break out the tech jargon in a business setting."

"So guys, our, umm, magic glowing rectangles have been, uhh, a bit less magical this week. Apparently an, umm... black box that communicates using, uhh... a special language... er, well, stopped speaking with another black box that's just like it, except not ours. So we, uhh, asked our engineers to look into that, and yeeeeah... they're ah, still doing that now. It's been about four days, and uhh, they're not exactly sure where the problem is, so if we could, you know..."

(Engineer bursts into the room) "It was the router you bleeping idiots! If you'd just told us your network was down we'd have fixed it in TWO MINUTES, but your work order was blabbering on about magical boxes and glowing rectangles and we thought you were all drugged or somesuch and called 911 instead. It was only after someone in the NOC got back from their smoke break they saw the line was dead and dispatched a tech."

(sounds of approaching sirens)

"You deserve this," says the network engineer, storming off.

Re:Problem (3, Insightful)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year ago | (#43747243)

"The network is down, ETA?"

This is a more typical C level email.

What you described is a mid-level manager who was promoted out of harms way.

Don't you worry about Blank... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747097)

Let ME worry about Blank!

The only jargon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747099)

a CIO needs to know is, "Yes sir Mr. CEO. That's a great idea!"

Never show cunning, too many traps... (2)

zugedneb (601299) | about a year ago | (#43747103)

that is, a politician never mentions any knowledge about say agriculture, military strategy, ecosystem, medicine...

There are 3 impossibile to evade traps in showing knowledge as a leader:
1 - in the west U are tagged communist, and I do not joke.
2 - Never talk about work, or work within a field, only talk about "creating jobs" - the reason is that the world is difficult, and there are a lot of cunning folks out there who see it as an oppurtunity to ask really difficult or troublesome questions... In the eyes of the crowd, not being able to answer only sinks you in their eyes...
3 - If you, as a leader, talk about the particulars, you take away the dream, and leave nothing but reality.... And lets face it, in reality we got some tools, a limited time to live, and eachother... Scary...

How painfully vacuous... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43747193)

Was there anything at all about CIOs, or was that just another pop-psych regurgitation of 'Primate Power: use these hackneyed verbal tricks to pretend that you are the monkey with the biggest cock in the room!' as seen far too often in the various 'self-help for the painfully mediocre' columns that run in various media?

Even under the (probably quite generous) assumption that this advice is true, it's the kind of thing that you aren't going to learn just by reading, any more than you can become a good actor just by skimming a few scripts.

CIO Monthly (4, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43747723)

was that just another pop-psych regurgitation of 'Primate Power: use these hackneyed verbal tricks to pretend that you are the monkey with the biggest cock in the room!' as seen far too often in the various 'self-help for the painfully mediocre' columns that run in various media?

Hmm, not working for you? Try one of the other columns:

Ten hot buttons to drive your CEO wild.
Managing the Managers Managers for Fun and Profit.
Is your CTO spying on you? Find out using this one weird trick.
Not getting any at home? "Borrow" it from the supply closet.
How To: Turn Heads in your next Teleconference.
Lie with Numbers without getting caught: It's not you, it's them!
Lingo Bingo: Generate More Buzz with less Words.

I do and get into trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747197)

When talking about a router: "I need to go to Sears and get more bits for the router - carbide ones."

Funny looks

"What I program in? C, C++, D, E ... whatever it takes."

Blank stares.

"Java?! Don't drink it anymore. I don't eat JavaBeans either. Why do you ask?"

Interview cut short.

"Dot net? I know what a net is, but how do you catch dots with it?"

"Microsoft partner. Dear Sir! I'm neither "micro" nor "soft" - pistols at dawn!"

Wait, what? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747219)

Why exactly should you never be the first to mention compensation in an interview process? That sounds like a recipe for a wasted hour.. if there is a serious mismatch of expectations, I'd rather know earlier rather than later.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747715)

Exactly my thoughts. Personally I try to get it out of them before the interview.
Or as plebs are we supposed to just say "yes sir thank you sir" and take any old wage?

Re:Wait, what? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#43749609)

Ditto, I have 15yrs blue collar experience and 20+yrs white collar, never had to ask about wages during an interview. If they are unwilling to ask/tell me about remuneration upfront then I'm unwilling to talk to them any further. I prefer them to ask me what I want rather than tell me what they are offering, but the headhunting heydays of the 90's are gone forever.

The way I see it is: If you turn up to a "pig in the poke" interview, you have already told your future boss that you're desperate and/or naive.

Naturally (0)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#43747235)

Management/BSA graduate types of today operate on the dudebro concept. No technical knowledge of the business is actually required, only a bit of 4 function math and the invaluable who-you-know list. In fact, showing that you do have technical knowledge causes the others to either feel intimidated and work to expunge you, or you're passed off as an anti-social geek and hit a promotion glass ceiling.

This is why our economy will probably tailspin in a few years: the people with the power do almost none of the work, while the people who actually do it, are increasingly tied up in the passive aggressive office dynamics created by that top level insecurity. Meanwhile, countries without 50 years of this holding them back will get things done more cheaply and efficiently...and, when things finally get really bad here, with more personal liberty intact. Now that will be a sad day for the USA.

Re:Naturally (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#43747289)

the people with the power do almost none of the work

Funny, that's been the case since 1776. The research is not in but that situation may in fact predate the foundation of the Republic. There is a murky concept known by the odd name of "aristocracy" which may explain some of these bizarrities.

Re:Naturally (2)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#43747325)

They had to have done something, or we'd probably be a recently freed territory of great britain today. These people were not of the same culture as what we have today.

Re:Naturally (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#43747555)

So, pretty much like Canada then. How is that a bad thing, except without all the slavery and genocide?

Re:Naturally (5, Interesting)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#43747311)

the people with the power do absolutely none of the work

Fixed that for you.

But on a more serious note, I work above a warehouse for an import company. The owner is a multi-millionaire Chinese ex-pat. It's pretty damn sobering to see him weeding, sweeping and driving a forklift when he has time. He doesn't have to, and he's not doing it to motivate his staff. For him, it's just the right thing to do.

Restepca

Re:Naturally (4, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#43747339)

A nice anecdote, but, really, he's still not in the same situation as his employees, mainly for the reason you stated: he doesn't have to. He doesn't have to answer to anyone, he doesn't have to do those tasks to get paid, and he doesn't have to tolerate any passive aggressive attempts at manipulation in order to keep his job.

Re:Naturally (2)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about a year ago | (#43748145)

That's precisely why it's a nice anecdote. Weeding and sweeping especially are shit jobs that people do because they have to. Finding a millionaire company owner who's still willing to get down-and-dirty is a good sign that he isn't full of himself. Buy the man a beer.

Re:Naturally (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748545)

Why is it when you want to commend somebody you give them the satanic drink? You like a guy so you give him something that would make him stupid and would land him in Hell?! What the hell's wrong with you people?!

Re:Naturally (1)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about a year ago | (#43747667)

Hope he's good to work for, too. Usually the higher the position the less inclined they are to deign the actual working floor with their presence, which just means they have absolutely no fucking clue what's going on in their company beyond the boundaries of their office and water cooler.

Re:Naturally (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#43747771)

What do you call a Chinese peasant with millions of dollars?

A peasant.

Re:Naturally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748261)

richer than an american peasant and more honest about their social status.

Re:Naturally (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a year ago | (#43747971)

the people with the power do absolutely none of the work

But on a more serious note, I work above a warehouse for an import company. The owner is a multi-millionaire Chinese ex-pat. It's pretty damn sobering to see him weeding, sweeping and driving a forklift when he has time. He doesn't have to, and he's not doing it to motivate his staff. For him, it's just the right thing to do.

What you're seeing here is the difference between a "boss" and a "leader".

A leader will get things done, even if it means he has to do some dirty work. A boss makes excuses why others didn't get things done.

Re:Naturally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748197)

WTF is a company exec doing wasting his time with that crap?
If he's the head honcho his time is more valuable doing management things that generate more money to hire the extra people needed to weed the yard and drive the forklift.
How much money did he and/or the company lose because he wasn't doing his REAL job?

Re:Naturally (1)

petman (619526) | about a year ago | (#43748579)

The anecdote said the guy was the owner. That doesn't necessarily mean he has an executive position. Maybe he owns the company but hires other people to be the CEO and fill all the other management positions. He holds no position in the company but sometimes he just likes to waltz in and help around where he can. It's his company, so what's wrong with him being able to do whatever he likes with it?

Re:Naturally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748793)

He was the owner. He chose to spend time that m

The idea that time is so fungible that you can easily reallocate his time from weeding @ $x / hour to "management things" @ $y / hour where y >> x is simplistic.

If he'd ordered the officers of a public company to spend 50% of their time weeding the yard at their usual salary, that would be a waste of money.

There are tonnes of people who weed their own yard, yet have a day job that pays way more than weeding, and it's not even an economically unsound choice because they can't just do their job instead and collect the difference between their salary and the cost of having somebody else weed.

(I'm not among them. I hate weeding.).

Flintstones said it best (1)

TigerPlish (174064) | about a year ago | (#43747253)

"Strategize, Visualize, Conceptualize."

C-Speak takes what could fit on a 2 x 1.5" sticky note and expands it to fill entire books.

Say absolutely nothing with any real meaning (4, Interesting)

Tridus (79566) | about a year ago | (#43747303)

That about covers it. We get this nonsense in the government too. Senior management does their "lean six sigma strategic planning" for the year, and comes up with a giant poster on the wall of the department priority plan.

It's got lots of lovely sounding buzzphrases and fuzzy things, but absolutely nothing that anybody who does any of the real work can actually do. So it's totally useless. Business goes on as usual, and we kind of nod politely when they're in the room and wait for them to leave so we can get back to work.

If you want to get by as a "leader" these days, the goal seems to be to offer no actual leadership, no firm plans, and no position on anything.

Re:Say absolutely nothing with any real meaning (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747455)

So you're saying that 6Sigma has no effect whatsoever on a business's output? What about minimizing waste while increasing efficiency? I see that as a good thing.

Also, while you're working on your one little project, your managers are making sure that all the various BU are working together to make a better product. Hard for your little minds to imagine such a big picture, huh?

Re:Say absolutely nothing with any real meaning (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year ago | (#43747931)

Except having these great ideas don't matter unless they can be implemented, something that CIOs don't do.

The CIO saying we need to reduce downtime (or whatever the current buzzword is) doesn't really -do- much to affect quality. Gee, I thought having the servers go down for an hour every month was a good thing! Instead, the engineer who implements a way of preventing that monthly downtime has actually done something to boost quality.

There needs to be a bridge between the business side of things and the tech side of things, but in most companies that role is not filled by the CIO.

Re:Say absolutely nothing with any real meaning (1)

Kim0 (106623) | about a year ago | (#43749129)

6Sigma is wrong, because it uses gaussian distributions, which reality only uses some times.

Re:Say absolutely nothing with any real meaning (4, Interesting)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about a year ago | (#43747681)

Exactly how it is at every company everywhere.

Sometimes I cringe at all the waste. Not the time, because the people who develop that shit, their time is worthless to begin with -- the actual physical waste, all the shit they produce to make themselves feel good but is only ever sneered at by employees that actually do work for their paycheck.

Constant improvement is secret code for constantly creating more complicated procedures under the guise of 'streamlining' a procedure.

Re:Say absolutely nothing with any real meaning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747991)

If you want to get by as a "leader" these days, the goal seems to be to offer no actual leadership, no firm plans, and no position on anything.

So what you're saying is...I have a chance?

Brutally Honest (4, Funny)

DaMattster (977781) | about a year ago | (#43747347)

Just sound like the world's biggest douche bag and say, "Cloud ... blah blah .... Cloud"

Re:Brutally Honest (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43747783)

Just sound like the world's biggest douche bag and say, "Cloud ... blah blah .... Cloud"

Suppose it's a sunny day?

Re:Brutally Honest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43749015)

Just sound like the world's biggest douche bag and say, "Cloud ... blah blah .... Cloud"

Suppose it's a sunny day?

When you deal with this stuff, every day is cloudy.,

Do this. Don't do that! Can't you read the sign? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747427)

Only a Sith deals in absolutes!

Re:Do this. Don't do that! Can't you read the sign (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year ago | (#43747551)

Only a Sith deals in absolutes!

Isn't the term "only" itself an absolute?

Re:Do this. Don't do that! Can't you read the sign (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#43747819)

It would make sense if it was a Sith saying...

Great article, thanks for posting! (3, Informative)

JimtownKelly (634785) | about a year ago | (#43747461)

Great CIOs, demonstrate a balance between understanding the business and understanding the technology in their communications. Fortunately I've worked for a couple of these in my career. Few and far between.

Ugh... I hate that shit (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#43747493)

This is the example I use of how NOT to communicate at my company:

Each individual stakeholder must focus on the downward flow of delegation to ensure timely deployment of critical deliverables and the achievement of key milestones. Without cross-functional deployment of synergistic competencies, we risk significant schedule slippage and may miss key dates that we have agreed to with our core customers.

I much prefer:

"Everybody, get your shit done on time and work together to avoid getting stuck, or we won't sell our shit and we won't get paid."

Sums it up nicely.

Re:Ugh... I hate that shit (2)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about a year ago | (#43747695)

The former being delivered by approximately a dozen well-dressed office dwellers before they depart to their catered meal for the rest of the day,
the latter being said by one dude who waves everyone off back to work before even turns to leave.

WTF? (1)

B33rNinj4 (666756) | about a year ago | (#43747631)

I want my company's upper management to be clear and concise, rather than vague and full of shit. Sadly, the trend is to communicate as little as possible.

acne cure (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747733)

Acne Cure [blogspot.com]

The Best Acne Treatment [blogspot.com]

Cloud, Cloud, Cloud (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747755)

The cloud is where we want to be, regardless of the technical evaluation proving that the cloud doesn't make sense for the environment.

Your technical evaluation is easier if you ask me what the outcome should be.

Re:Cloud, Cloud, Cloud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748273)

cio's allways forget if you have clouds sometime its going to rain.

literally never use tech jargon (1)

cmurf (2833651) | about a year ago | (#43747759)

Increasingly CIOs don't even understand the tech jargon, regardless who uses it first. They're an MBA with a CIO label on them. Congratulations businesses who have a CIO who can speak business, but is objectively way behind the curve with the IT professions he's supposedly chief of and they're not impressed.

Through the looking glass (4, Interesting)

jbeaupre (752124) | about a year ago | (#43747887)

We build stuff and it better damn well work. So....

Our CEO is a physicist. All of the people in upper management have degrees in science or engineering, including sales and marketing. Yeah, you have to use business jargon, but if you don't talk tech, you don't get to participate at a strategic level. The less you know, the lower in the pecking order you are around here.

Re:Through the looking glass (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about a year ago | (#43748285)

Shit, in software, if it works the first time, how can I bill them to fix it?!?

THINK man.

Re:Through the looking glass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748435)

Easy the more people who will use your software the higher than chance it will fail spectacularly at the glance of some super-idiot. The magic number is somewhere around 4.

Ma=Ore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747983)

GNNA and su4port

Give me CTO any day (1)

ReadParse (38517) | about a year ago | (#43748219)

As a fairly experienced technologist with increasing responsibility over the last several years, and who has had a certain amount of success and gathered some decent ideas along the way, I do actually think of myself as either a future CTO or future business owner.

But I almost NEVER think of myself as a future CIO. CTO definitely. But you can *have* CIO.

huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748377)

did anyone else interpret that sack of crap as a polite way of spinning the old bofh addage of operational euphamisms.

Not always (3, Insightful)

Edward Kmett (123105) | about a year ago | (#43748487)

As a CIO, I viewed my job to be the opposite of everything in this article.

Of course it is good to listen. It is good to be able to interact with anyone on their level of technical expertise and understanding. This advice holds at every level of an organization.

It is also occasionally good to be capable of being demonstrably the most technically competent person in the room. Effective organizations do need the person who can actually ensure there exists an implementble strategy to accomplish the things the CEO is selling the world, and the things the client wants, and who can articulate to vendors exactly why their magic bullet isn't quite what you need. And in many ways as a CIO, your role is to be the one person at that level of management who really understands the ins and outs of how the technology works, how things can improve and how you can adapt to meet the challenges of the organization as a whole.

Sometimes that means being the voice of reason as the curmudgeonly technology guy, but more often it means trying to steer management towards implementable solutions and being able to suggest things that give the other CXO types options they didn't know existed.

Whether facing inward within the organization or outward to clientele or vendors, you need to be able to communicate effectively. One thing this article omits is that when facing outward, it is often good to know when to overload the vendor to get to someone who is more competent to address your concerns, and somewhat more judiciously to be able to out-tech a client's technical guys as well.

Sometimes it _does_ pay to be the smartest person in the room.

Don't be the first to mention compensation? (3, Interesting)

grasshoppa (657393) | about a year ago | (#43748571)

Let me be the first to say, "Bullshit". I'm not in that interview chair because I enjoy the process. I'm not planning on working there because that's how I want to spend 9+ solid hours of my day ( although I do enjoy my work ). I'm there to earn a check.

Likewise, they aren't interviewing me because I'm an insightful and witty bastard ( although I am ). Neither are they going to hire me because looking at my pretty face is the highlight of their day. They want production out of me.

Now, that won't be the first thing out of my mouth, but I certainly will not hobble myself in an interview by letting them dictate what we talk about, when. Once I feel satisfied that I can do the work they want, and further, I think they feel satisfied I can do the work they want me to do, compensation becomes the next point of topic. If they don't bring it up, I will.

Re:Don't be the first to mention compensation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748897)

I agree. Both sides need to understand the salary range and expectations before wasting time.

I've had a number of discussions about interesting roles, only to find out down the track that they're offering significantly less than I'm now earning.

Contradictory skillsets. (2)

doubledown00 (2767069) | about a year ago | (#43748625)

The point of the article is that if you want to rise to CIO, you have to understand the company and how its buisness operates. This means having to transition from skills that are helpful in IT (detailed oriented micro thinking) to skills that are used in business (macro based "big picture" thinking). The article says not to use jargon because managers at the high echelons do not care about the nuts and bolts of how something gets done. They care about the end result and other non-technical drivers (cost, ROI, etc).

Understand, these are typically skills that do not make for a good IT worker. Someone good at IT is detail oriented and laser focused on specific tasks. It is difficult training one's brain to think in a different manner. And in the IT real, people are quick to discount those who don't think as they do. The sad part is those that "think differently" in this case happen to be those who sign the paychecks.

Not _always_ true, but often so (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748671)

The article doesn't cite research or stats or anything; it's nearly unfalsifiably vague.

However, IMO many CEOs and their friends (who get director's jobs, who keep the CEO in power) are really out of their depth leading technical companies. Some are there by nepotism, or sheer luck, or by being really talented in the world of 1970, or (I suppose this is a form of nepotism) merely being presentable elderly white males who can talk the talk wall street expects.

      These people very much want the world of business decisions to be such that any generic elderly white mail American can usefully opine on without context or domain knowledge. Any discussion that suggest this isn't so is uncomfortable. Maybe the tech issue really isn't that important, and the core question can be rephrased as one of whether or not we should "proactively leverage our core competencies" and blah. But if the actual specific question, including some level of details, is really important to higher ups - they are going to be, at the very least, awkward. People who talk tech may be talking in inappropriate detail, but they may also be saying something necessary that reminds too many other participants that they have no "value add". You will not thrive by making CEO's face such questions unless and until you really chose your moment carefully. I.e. in conjunction with your plan to depose them. If you aren't thinking that way, shut up. And/or move.

    Bottom line: any CIO who thinks "don't talk tech until someone else does" is useful has been horribly over-promoted. If you can't work out for yourself when
to talk tech and when not to, without such a shallow rule to guide you, you're way in over your head with a "C" title.

CIO? (2)

pr100 (653298) | about a year ago | (#43749221)

Ironic that an article about avoiding jargon uses "CIO" - I've no idea what that means...

Re:CIO? (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about a year ago | (#43749759)

Do you know what a CEO is?
Now consider that this site has a heavy IT focus...

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