Book Review: The Chief Information Officer’s Body of Knowledge

The Chief Information Officer's Body of Knowledge: People, Process, and TechnologyThe Chief Information Officer’s Body of Knowledge: People, Process, and Technology is a most interesting collection of insights and ideas worthy of a place in any CIO office. Collection is the right word since The Chief Information Officer’s Body of Knowledge is a collection of writings from nearly 30 contributors organized around three themes: People, Process and Technology. 

Written by Dean Lane, who served as CIO for Honeywell, ATK, Plantronics, and Masters Institute who now runs the Office of the CIO which he founded. Lane is also the author of two other well known books the CIO Perspectives and CIO Wisdom.

Don’t let the three themes fool you. The Chief Information Officer’s Body of Knowledge is stuffed full of great information offered up in very practical terms giving the reader every confidence they can replicate or adapt the ideas themselves.

In covering People, Lane’s contributors nail the importance of collaboration and recruiting supported by some great ideas on staff development and talent management. The People section also includes a great deal of attention on the role of the CIO in each area as well as the career needs of the CIO.

Process was the most interesting section for me but I am just wired that way. The Process section starts out strong by covering alignment and IT strategy then building linkages to business process improvements and managing the IT portfolio.

The book then rolls on through several chapters offering great perspectives on what makes for successful projects before addressing service management and IT workload management which is one of my personal favorites.

Technology was handled brilliantly by focusing on how to better manage the technology portfolio. Information security was also covered in depth by two contributors leading into BCP. Lane wraps up Technology with a chapter on transcending the “computer guy” stereotype. I suppose some readers would want more techie stuff but remember this is targeted at the CIO.

I also really like the fact that Lane uses so many contributors. This gives the readers a lot of different voices to hear the messages through with each person bringing a unique flavor to their topics. The contributors also include lots of visuals which I imagine came straight from their personal slide decks giving them hefty authenticity.

Authenticity is evident throughout the book as the contributors each share their experience on their challenges as well as what has worked for them. There is no filler or fluff, just meat and potatoes of battle tested thinking, examples, and plenty of lists, diagrams and illustrations added in where they make sense.

I didn’t really have anything I didn’t like or benefit from in the book. I did have some trouble reading a few diagrams where the text was just too small or where the black and white images didn’t offer enough contrast for my failing eyesight.

There were a few sections and ideas that stood out for me. In particular Allyn McGillicuddy, who recently served as the CIO at Golden Gate University, wrote a really good chapter on Requirements. Why they are important for projects and specific solutions as well as various approaches for requirements management and some tools to help you with the challenge.

Sometimes though when I reflect on all of my margin notes from a book I have just finished, I have a list of 15 or 20 big ideas and a couple of things I want to try. Interestingly, when I finished reviewing my notes from The Chief Information Officer’s Body of Knowledge: People, Process, and Technology one note stood out from all of the rest.

The one big thing that I will take away came from Mark Wayman in his chapter The CIO Career Guide. Wayman who is the founder and CEO of The Foundation was sharing some philosophies and statistics on executive success. It was one of the philosophies called The Secret where Wayman declared “there is not secret” only hard work, relationships, perseverance, and never giving up.

For me Wayman nails it. There are no secrets or magic dust. There are insights which can benefit us all. Because The Chief Information Officer’s Body of Knowledge is full of them, I recommend it for any IT manager or CIO.

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4 Responses to Book Review: The Chief Information Officer’s Body of Knowledge

  1. Kyle Johnson says:

    Very interesting looking book, however at $80 it seems like their pricing it like a textbook.

  2. The Higher Ed CIO says:

    I have wondered if I should note the retail price of the books or not. Even looking on Amazon you can find this title new starting at just over $52. I did let the publishers that provide me with books that I wanted to switch my links over to the Amazon listings instead of the publishers sites so it would be easier/better for readers.

    In general though it seems that books geared towards professional readers careers and solving issues at work seem to be priced much higher than other titles. I suppose that is because implied value but I suspect it is more due to the employer picking up the cost that helps keep the prices higher.

  3. Dean Lane says:

    Just a note to let you know that the price of CIO Body of Knowledge was set by the publisher. Importantly, ALL royalties from the book go to the CIO Scholarship Fund which is a 501(3)(c). ALL monies received by the CIO Scholarship Fund are given out as scholarships for students pursuing a course of study in Information Technology. One other requirement is that these scholarships are for students who need financial assistance. In the past several years we have given out about $350,000.00 in scholarships.

  4. The Higher Ed CIO says:

    Thanks Dean for that explanation and for your decision to use the royalties in this way.

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