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FCW : May 30, 2014
May 30, 2014 FCW.COM 17 For the rising government IT profes- sional, there s no longer a clear career path --- if there ever really was one. Compared with the leaders currently in those positions, future CIOs will need a new set of skills, a diversity of experiences and fresh perspectives. "One big pitfall is for people to think...that in order to get to the CIO job, I m going to need to do what my CIO did," Kris van Riper, managing director of CEB s government prac- tice, told FCW. "All our research indi- cates that what made them successful up until this point will probably be a different skill set than what makes their successor successful." Two important trends bear on the question. First, the balance of indi- vidual and team contributions to a project s outcome has shifted in the past 10 years. A decade ago, the indi- vidual s effort contributed 80 percent, and the work of the team accounted for 20 percent. Now, the two compo- nents are balanced 50-50, van Riper said. Second, IT departments are increas- ingly serving as consultants to busi- ness units and helping them solve their technical problems, rather than simply taking orders for systems and delivering them some months later. For every $1 that a CIO spends on IT, business unit partners spend another 40 cents on average, van Riper said, which means a huge chunk of the IT budget lies outside the CIO s control. The IT department "is moving to be more of a broker and adviser for how business partners will spend money on IT," she said. "You really have to focus on leadership through in uence versus leadership through direct bud- get control or authority." Although strong technical skills and abundant brainpower are still required in would-be CIOs, those talents are no longer suf cient. You will also need an array of interpersonal skills, experi- ences and perspectives to tackle the challenges facing federal organizations in this era. FCW asked experts and rising stars in government IT to share their insights into what the leaders of the future should do to position themselves for success. Skills Communication skills have never been more important than in the modern, team- oriented workplace --- particularly active listening and understanding the perspectives of your colleagues, business partners and stakeholders, said Rick Holgate, CIO of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "Collaboration has become a de facto way of working today," he told FCW. "That s an essential skill for any- one to get anything done, both within your organization and across organiza- tions. As we try to do bigger and more meaningful things within the federal government, those are by de nition cross-organizational" activities. Holgate, who is also president of the American Council for Technology, said it is important to ask questions and make sure you understand how busi- ness processes work, especially when you take on new leadership positions. When he joined ATF, he embarked on a reorganization and developed a new strategic plan for the agency. In the process, he made sure that everybody affected was able to voice his or her opinion on what was important, what should change and the merit of certain ideas or proposals. "Once we made some decisions, not everyone got what they wanted," Holgate said. "Not everyone was able to walk away saying, 'Everything I expressed was addressed or achieved, but they also understood why that didn t happen." Furthermore, the professionals who stand out from the pack are those who can frame a complex problem in a way that brings everyone together around a solution, given the variety of systems, organizations and stakeholders who are typically affected. For instance, computer security touches on dis- ciplines that include cryptography, system engineering, architecture and communication protocols, said Mat- thew Scholl, acting chief of the Com- puter Security Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. "The ability to crystallize and see where an issue might lie, but also see it in the context of the larger archi- tecture, is important," he told FCW. "You need to rely on a team approach because there are very few people who have a deep technical understanding of those disciplines." If you re considering transition- ing to a cryptographic algorithm, for example, your decision will have a long-lasting impact on commercial products and government infrastruc- ture. You need to balance commercial availability, the effect on international BY KATHERINE REYNOLDS LEWIS
May 15, 2014
June 30, 2014