Succession Planning for the CIO

As "baby-boomers" retire institutional and IT experience is lost -- how does a CIO ensure there are experienced internal candidates to fill all levels of the management structure in the organization

There is a trend over the last several years is problematic for mid-career IT Professionals who aspire to the CIO's chair. Many if not most CIO jobs are filled with outside candidates.

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The primary cause for this are the gaps between middle managers operational and technical abilities necessary for the CIO role. I now is at the the point where it's difficult for many companies to promote IT professionals into the most senior positions because they have not been adequately prepared to take on the broader responsibilities.

IT JobFamilies The root of the problem can be found in the year following the bubble and continued slow growth economy, when executive management came to realize that things were going to be bad for more than a short time. As a result, they began to tighten their belts. At a mid-management level, that led to downsizing and outsourcing. At a senior level, while there perhaps weren't as many positions eliminated, when a IT manager left a company, the decision to replace that role was given much more scrutiny. In many cases, those responsibilities were divided up among the remaining members of the IT management team.

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That may not seem to be a problem as it relates to CIO succession. But when one examines how work got done over the last several years, it becomes clearer.

The result of downsizing mid-management is that the remaining managers are given more of the same work to do. When a company does not replace an IT manager, other managers end up expanding their spans of control - sometimes over several groups or functions. What develops is an organization where mid-managers are managing deeper and senior managers have an extended span of control.
The end result mid-level managers are not getting the type of development and experience required to take on the most senior roles.

With the "Baby Boomer" generation retiring a lot of organizational and IT technical experience is lost. The result is that as they retire or leave their companies for other positions, more and more frequently there is a need to look outside for replacements. Companies are beginning to fight for the attention of a diminishing pool of qualified candidates.

To help replenish the stock of seasoned IT professionals, CIOs need to take look at whether the current structure and "Job Family" classification and compensation systems are adequate to meet not only current operating needs but also longer-term talent needs. Staff developmental has to be a focus.

The impact that failing to promote from within has on employee morale, in addition to the risky process and low success rate of externally sourced CIOs, something needs to be done.

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