I recently had a conversation with a guy I have known for years. He has become, in middle age, what is known in the business as a “serial CIO.” These are CIOs who quickly move from job to job, frequently for the wrong reasons. I hear from him several times a year. Right now he is, as is frequently the case, out of a job. In fact, he has landed and lost three CIO positions over the past five years. He has now been unemployed for over a year and is finding that his past has rapidly caught up with him.
In the early summer of 1982 I sat in a lounge in Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport awaiting a connecting flight to North Carolina. At the table next to me three men in business suits were engaged in a discussion in a language that seemed foreign to me. They spoke of RAM and ROM, of bytes and kilobytes (not much talk about megabytes back then!). I didn’t understand the subject but I did understand that what they were talking about would become very important and that I knew next to nothing about the subject. I also had this strange premonition that this emerg
The historian Charlton Ogburn, once observed, “We tend …to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.”
I once worked for a company that, for a period of about a year, reorganized on average about every three months. Talk about chaos! I believe, as was the case here, that when some managers don’t know what else to do, reorganizing at least gives the appearance that they are taking action.
Reorganizations can be terribly disruptive because there are always winners and losers and the rumors before and after the event itself tend to add to the anxiety. When I was a CIO, decisions to reorganize, which I rarely did, were driven by one or the following:
A change in the structure or direction of the overall business itself such as a merger, acquisition or downsizing;
A realignment of resources to support a new strategic opportunity; or,
Changes in key personnel allowing us to better use our available talent.
Reorganizations without a clear reason and a clear and well-executed communications plan usually lead to disaster!