How can a CIO be most effective in interfacing with their individual board of directors? How can they create a language that the board members will understand.

Leadership In terms of being better prepared to interact with the board, I have probably learned it best by being on the other side, with my board roles now. It’s so fascinating to see the world from the other side. The questions like what does a board member think of the IT organization? What does a board member think of the CIO? What do they want to hear from them? I would often get the feedback that when I was presenting to the board that I was being too focused on detail and not focused enough on the things that were important to the board. Once I became a board member myself I could fully understand this. As I mentioned before, the board generally is not staffed with technologists so there's a whole bunch of education on the basics that as CIOs we kind of overlook. We just expect that everybody else knows this stuff. Knows our acronyms, knows the importance of something basic like a network or a firewall. I learned that you have to take the time to educate. I also learned how important it is to see IT more purely through the lens of the business. What is the role of the function? At Viavi, (a company whose board I am on) a corporation that has been going through a pretty significant business transformation in terms of the structure of the business by divestiture and then acquisition. The IT organization has been front and center of that strategy with a major systems transformation to upgrade the PRP, the CRM basics. Also to facilitate acquisition of other businesses to make it easier and faster for Viavi to grow through acquisition. This has been what the board has wanted to hear about. It's not the details of the ERP project but really what's that going to enable on the other side and how we'll feel confident that more of the business processes are automated in a way that will not only lead to efficiency but make it easy to accept growth through acquisition. That's just a small example of how you can excel in front of the board. Understand your importance to the business, describe your function, issues, needs, the status of things to the board. This has to be done through the lens of what is the business thesis that you're accomplishing. The more that CIOs can do that, the more effective they will be when they get in front of the board.

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In terms of being better prepared to interact with the board, I have probably learned it best by being on the other side, with my board roles now. It’s so fascinating to see the world from the other side. The questions like what does a board member think of the IT organization? What does a board member think of the CIO? What do they want to hear from them? I would often get the feedback that when I was presenting to the board that I was being too focused on detail and not focused enough on the things that were important to the board. Once I became a board member myself I could fully understand this. As I mentioned before, the board generally is not staffed with technologists so there's a whole bunch of education on the basics that as CIOs we kind of overlook. We just expect that everybody else knows this stuff. Knows our acronyms, knows the importance of something basic like a network or a firewall. I learned that you have to take the time to educate. I also learned how important it is to see IT more purely through the lens of the business. What is the role of the function? At Viavi, (a company whose board I am on) a corporation that has been going through a pretty significant business transformation in terms of the structure of the business by divestiture and then acquisition. The IT organization has been front and center of that strategy with a major systems transformation to upgrade the PRP, the CRM basics. Also to facilitate acquisition of other businesses to make it easier and faster for Viavi to grow through acquisition. This has been what the board has wanted to hear about. It's not the details of the ERP project but really what's that going to enable on the other side and how we'll feel confident that more of the business processes are automated in a way that will not only lead to efficiency but make it easy to accept growth through acquisition. That's just a small example of how you can excel in front of the board. Understand your importance to the business, describe your function, issues, needs, the status of things to the board. This has to be done through the lens of what is the business thesis that you're accomplishing. The more that CIOs can do that, the more effective they will be when they get in front of the board.