Machiavellian CIO

Posted under: From the Blog 19th of November, 2010

My favourite session at Gartner this week. Tina Nunno had me laughing most of the session with the parallel between the works of Machiavelli and the real politik of today’s IT leaders.Tina Nunno on the Machiavellian CIO 3.0 – Love and War.

1.0 Power, 2.0 Manipulation, 3.0 Waging a war

Maverick research moving into mainstream. Machiavelli’s Art of War
Mandrake and Clizia, Discourses, etc.

Critical elements of love and war, running campaigns.

Studying the tactics of other militaries, eg finance, marketing.

Love in warfare, inspiration, can you generate fellowship? Leaders and their followers must be prepared for war and peace.

War based on foreign invasion. Territory is at risk. Organizational warfare, Cultural warfare. Easier to rally around common enemy, easy to lead against invasion.
Many CIOs focus on defending against invasion but this is easier and reactive.
CIO should focus on mastering offensive wars of expansion as offence is the best defence.

War is made for 2 reasons: to subjugate or for fear of subjugation.
Therefore attack should be seen as a compliment that you are a  threat.
3 methods – form a league of equals, form an alliance with a central authority, or make other states subjects rather than allies.
But governing by force where subjects were used to self government is difficult and tiresome. Need to crush them but that destroys their value.

Think like an animal – are you a cat or a dog. Leaders must inspire both love and fear.
Virtu – defined as disciplined and decisive, ruthless, opportunistic, adaptable.

Your preparedness to run a campaign?

When selecting direct reports – enough reports to manage but not enough to form coalitions against you.

Give all the impression that one is benign, so no one knows you are a threat.
Can you be patient and confide in the few who matter? Secrecy is crucial.

Mercenaries are dangerous in times of peace. How many consultants have taken over IT?

Master diverse methods, multi dimensional strategy. Be conscious of assets, terrain, target, self. Few are born brave. Industry and training make brave, avoid repose.

1 Choosing battles wisely
Do not be fooled by bad or mischievous advice. Maneuver for the most strategic assets.
If advisors are too keen on either peace or war you will get bad advice.
Walk into the uncontested grey space and take control.

2 Staging a coup
Make the auditor your friend. A well-informed auditor is the most effective assassin. CFOs want expense controlled and will delegate to those who assist.

3 Gaining cooperation from outliers
Wait for them to fail before rescuing them. Wait for the leadership to ask for help
People act towards love or from pain. Better to subdue by famine than sword.

4 Ceding ground for future capability
Do of your own volition what they would force you to do.
Give up ground short-term in order to strengthen ability
Staged retreat for strength later. Avoid fights you will lose.

Machiavellian dimensions:
Soldiers, scale, weapons, mission
Fortuna, terrain, timing, history
Virtu, power, secrecy, subterfuge.
Self virtu, power, secrecy, subterfuge

Virtu inspires. Also pay attention to Fortuna and exploit opportunity.

Valor, then peace, repose, inattention, disorder, chaos, unrest, then war again and the cycle continues.
Cycle of war and peace is inevitable – it is the skill of the leader that shortens the war and lengthens the peace.

Are you such an IT leader?

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