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The CIO Paradox: Battling the Contradictions of IT Leadership Hardcover – October 16, 2012
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“Martha does a great job of capturing the paradox of not just the CIO role, but of Enterprise IT as a whole. In a world that greatly admires technology and over-rewards the start-up, how is the "brand" of the enterprise CIO and the technology teams that support our business so weak? As a CIO that has survived this paradox for more than a decade, I appreciate the insights of The CIO Paradox.” (Robert B. Carter, EVP & CIO, FedEx Corporation)
“In The CIO Paradox, Heller has her finger on the pulse of the major contradictions that plague the CIO role today, including being hired to be strategic, but spending most of our time being operational. Her recommendations on how to overcome major paradoxes offer concise and helpful advice to CIOs on becoming more successful in the role.” (Gregory S. Smith, CIO at an international firm, and author of Straight to the Top: Becoming a World-Class CIO)
“Martha Heller has unparalleled access to CIOs. She advises them, writes about them, and recruits them. With her terrific book, The CIO Paradox, she lets us in on all that she has learned and the advice she has given. The result is an invaluable resource. Martha demonstrates that for CIOs to be successful in this day and age, they must achieve balance in their skills, plans, and methods to eliminate blind spots and to achieve sustainable success for their departments and for their companies.” (Peter High, President, Metis Strategy, LLC and author of World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumphs)
“What makes The CIO Paradox a compelling read is the understanding Martha has of the vast challenges today's CIOs are faced with. Throughout the book you have those "aha!" moments that energize any reader who works in or supports the IT profession. The organized, blunt fashion in which she states the paradox, while injecting the perfect amount of humor, is terrific, as are her conclusions. This is not a book about IT that will bore you!” (Pamela J. Stenson, Senior Vice President & General Manager, CIO Executive Council)
“A must-read for all CIOs and those aspiring to the role. The CIO Paradox is a compendium of our colleagues' most valuable and sometimes painful lessons packaged up and told in a compelling and straightforward manner. Heller has distilled years of CIO experience into a pragmatic guide that not only helps CIOs everywhere to improve their game, but forces them to reflect on where they have been and, more importantly, where they should go next.” (Timothy C. McCabe, SVP & CIO, Delphi)
“Martha Heller has captured the essence of the exhilaration and the stress that come with being a CIO in the 21st century. In The CIO Paradox, she has articulated the complex and critical set of issues that confront CIOs every day, in every enterprise, in a witty and constructive way. Having lived the CIO role over four different decades, I was able to relate to her paradoxes and her conclusions: that to be successful in this young and great profession you must move from being an "either, or" manager to an "and, and" leader. It will be exciting to see more and more of our next generation leaders break through these paradoxes.” (Charlie Feld, Founder, The Feld Group Institute, and author of Blind Spot IT: A Leader's Guide To IT-Enabled Business Transformation)
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o Hired to be strategic but spends most time and energy on operations
o Charged to be a steward of risk mitigation and cost containment, yet expected to innovate
o Viewed as a service provider, yet expected to be a business driver
o IT can make or break a company but a CIO rarely sits on a board.
You get the idea. And note the resemblance to what had once been paradoxes of the CFO. Years ago, my late and cherished friend, Jeremy Hope, wrote Reinventing the CFO: How Financial Managers Can Transform Their Roles and Add Greater Value (Harvard Business Review Press, 2006). What he tried to do for CFOs and their companies is what Heller is trying to do for CIOs and their companies. Resolving various paradoxes by reinventing the CIO is in the best-interests of current and aspiring CIOs, of course, but also in the best interests of stakeholders, the given organization, its industry, and -- yes -- the global economy.
These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Heller's coverage.Read more ›
First, it begins and ends with practice rather than theory. Heller's insights are directly tied to the on-the-job experiences and learnings of some of the world's top CIOs, whose stories fill the book.
Second, while Heller organizes all that she's learned into a framework of sorts (the 12 paradoxes, organized into four sections on the CIO's role, stakeholder relationships, staff leadership and the future), she doesn't try to tie things up too neatly. There are no simple answers to complex problems, and it doesn't get much more complex than organizational and technology leadership in the midst of the shift to a digital economy. What there is instead is some great proven advice that CIOs can trust to help them start solving the paradox for themselves.
Finally, Heller's book is different in its readability. It's like having a series of engaging conversations with a super networker, which Heller definitely is. Too many business books feel like taking your medicine. The experience of reading The CIO Paradox is more like enjoying a good meal.
Full disclosure: I worked with Martha for years at CIO magazine, where I was editor in chief and she launched and ran the CIO Best Practices Exchange and its successor, the CIO Executive Council. While this may bias me somewhat, it also provides weight to my knowledge of her experience and credibility. You can read my interview with her on the launch of The CIO Paradox at
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is bizarre so far, and some times comedic. I'll update it if it deserves it but I am about 20% through the audiobook and here are some "Change" that they have... Read morePublished 1 day ago by reit
Excellent book depicting the tough realities of the CIO role and for anyone in IT leadership positions.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
A very approachable and easy-reading book. I love the way Martha contrasts the one side of an issue with the other. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Kwakker1000
A must read for IT Executives seeking to make the leap to the C-suite. Heller uncovers the complexities of leading IT. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Eric D. Freeman
I read Martha's book with interest having been in the shoes of the CIO in three stints till now. My path to CIO was the reverse of the successful CIO's listed here who have gone... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Lalit Panda
Disclaimers: I did buy the book from Amazon; I have not met the author; I have no financial interest in this book. I first picked it up several months ago. Read morePublished 18 months ago by F. Scholl
I've been in the CIO role for the past 18 months and has been constantly looking for information to help ke understand the world of the CIO. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Jaco
This book articulates so well the challenges of the CIO position and also contains good food for thought for CIO's to continue to improve. Read morePublished 21 months ago by FatherOf4
One of the best books I've read about this subject. I recommend it to anyone who wants to follow the CIO path.Published 21 months ago by Adrian