MIS Quarterly Executive


"During their first year on the job, incoming CIOs use various approaches to establish their credibility and provide value to the organization. We interviewed 36 CIOs of large organizations across a variety of industries and categorized their transition approaches as either incremental or radical. Incremental means that during their first year, they initiated change in only one major area at a time—either IT human resources, IT processes, IT infrastructure, or IT’s relationship with the business. Radical means that within their first year, they simultaneously initiated change in at least three of the four major areas.We found that their choice was closely associated with the “IT leader visibility” of their predecessor, which we named Keep-It-Running CIO (IT had little visibility), Value-Adding CIO (IT was visible in some business units), and Big-Bang CIO (IT was visible organization-wide). Depending on the situation the incoming CIOs inherited, we found patterns in the type of transition they typically took—either incremental or radical.While our study involved only the first year of an incoming CIO’s tenure, the lessons are likely to prove useful to CIOs seeking long tenures in the same organization. They might need to manage from all three perspectives: as a Keep-It-Running CIO, as a Value-Adding CIO, and as a Big-Bang CIO."