A lot has been written lately on the skills that a modern CIO or IT Manager has to have to ensure a decent service: for example the blog of Susan Cramm, of the Harvard Business Reviews, often writes about this topic.
I’ve not a completely formed idea on this but let me give you my gut feeling.
The CIO or IT Manager need a solid technical background. Information Technology is still an immature ecosystem: extremely fast development of paradigms with weak methodology and processes. We still compare, when we talk about IT project management, producing a piece of software with producing a washing machine: even the metaphors are weak!
I think it’s better if the IT Manager belongs to the production and development of software. This can give him a better strategic idea on how things are created and then on how to ‘put all things together’. And this can help him in not being fascinated by the last buzzword! But for sure he need a real passion for the new IT stuff.
… and the CIO or IT Manager need to be a real manager. This (IT) is a world full of geeks + not well trained people (anyone who can use a mouse can be hired as a IT professional 😦 ) so a solid management background is required. It’s even better if the IT Manager has a real passion for management / process related items: as the ecosystem is immature, a lot can be exploited or invented in this space.
A real plus, as we talk about geeks :), is an interest in human behaviors, in social relationships, in communication.
… so the CIO or IT Manager has to be a NON working manager. A working manager is a manager that spends part of his time in doing non management work: talking about IT the typical example is a manager who writes actual production code for some hours a day. Talking about corporation or big organization, the CIO or IT Manager cannot be a working manager: he has to contribute to an higher level and need not to make mistakes given to his involvement in technical details.
So my gut says that “The CIO need a solid technical background and need to be a real passionate and skilled manager so he need to be a geek non working manager”
So IT guys, how’s your boss?
My 2€ cents,