Last month Laurie Orlov had an interesting article on CIO.com. Her article "Why Specific Tech Experience Shouldn't Define the CIO Resume" has been rattling around in my mind (as things so often do) since then.
Laurie was commenting on CIO job descriptions "that demand skills in configuring servers, designing the website, creating a long-term strategy, 20 years of experience plus a deep track record in a subbranch of financial services. Or that specify knowledge of an arcane, perhaps obsolete technology." I can relate to this as I've seen job description calling for the CIO to have specific programming skills in the latest technology and even list specific programming languages. In short, these types of job descriptions focus on tactical, technical skills.
The irony in all this is as Laurie correctly points out is that "They want CIOs they can understand (no techno-speak, please) and who understand business. So even if a CIO enters with a laundry list of technical experience that matches what the company asked for in the job description, chances are she's going to spend virtually no time in the new job using those skills."
The part of all this that been rattling around in my mind is -- Why? Why do people write these kinds of job descriptions. After giving it some thought, the answer that I come to is rather straightforward and simple -- they don't know any better! I'm not trying to be mean or belittle anyone but state this very plainly. The people that write these job descriptions (probably someone in Human Resources) and the hiring managers don't really understand what a CIO can or should do.
We can argue about who's fault this but that is not helpful. Rather than argue about fault we should ask the question -- What can we do to change this so people understand what CIOs do?