John Dabek
John Dabek

CIO to CIO Advice: Five key tips for the new CIO

This is part 4 of 4 in a series of articles for the new CIO… or for any IT leader seeking to improve the organization and the integration with the business.

1. Listen

  • Spend your first 45 days listening, paying close attention to the organization’s state of operations.
  • Truly strive to understand what the IT organization is saying and what the business is saying.
  • It is imperative to gain a firm grasp of the cultural dynamic at the firm.
  • What are the nuances?
  • Where are the power bases?
  • How are decisions being made, formally and informally?

2. Understand

  • Try to understand issues from all sides.
  • Gain insight into your employees’, colleagues’, and the executive suite’s perceptions of what is and is not working.
  • Are there easy things that can be fixed quickly that will make a significant difference?

3. Learn

  • Communicate with the executive group and find out how they want to see IT function from a business standpoint.
  • Determine if the business wants to be a real partner with IT. This allows you to shape the direction of your organization and processes moving forward.
  • Build your strategy in a way that is aligned with where the business is headed by adhering to that message and direction.
  • In a strategic partnership, the cost profile, talent profile, and operating models are different. Organize in a way to limit conflict and maximize empowerment and accountability.

4. Consider risk

  • What risks are being created by the technology organization?
  • Understand these risks and how to mitigate or eliminate them.
  • What investment options are open to you?
  • How are these perceived and balanced with other competing aspects?
  • Consider how risk is affecting decisions and potential consequences. Use this insight to make more informed decisions.

5. Evaluate changing structure and talent

  • Don’t change the organization just because you are new.
  • Look for ways to enhance functional, operational, and strategic engagement models.
  • Organization structure should create clear lines of accountability for both technology and business engagement.
  • There should be constant transparency and process efficiency to meet operational requirements, create empowered teams, and build collaborative partnerships.
  • Fostering a positive technology culture enhances the culture of the broader business and maximizes the strengths of the individual and teams.

Whether you’re brand new to your IT leadership position or an experienced CIO, Wavestone US can help you navigate the new challenges facing IT executives today. For an initial consultation, visit

John Dabek
Managing Principal

John is an award-winning, pragmatic, and innovative global technology executive with over 30 years of M&A, organizational design, and IT leadership expertise. He specializes in technology transformations and leading large-scale programs that create a step change in organizational performance.

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