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Tell-tale signs of a bad CIO

How do you spot a bad CIO? asks the question, "How do you spot a bad CIO?" With a nimwit CEO, it's a bit easier because the numbers tell the story: profits and sales falling, etc.

But how do you discern a failing CIO before she fails? has some answers:

  • High employee turnover
  • Rehashing the same ideas, projects and technologies that s/he's implemented in all previous CIO positions
  • Firing existing employees and replacing them with people who've worked for him/her in the past

To this list I'd add:

  • A rigid focus on maintenance and administration of software versus development and innovation of software. The day when IT could just sit back and take out the garbage is past. IT has to be part of one's business strategy and this requires IT to be as much about product development as about keeping the trains running on time.

  • Quasi-religious intolerance for open source and devotion to proprietary vendors. This is not to say that open source will have all the answers, but a CIO who has hardly intelligence enough to evaluate open source on the merits doesn't deserve the title.

  • A deaf ear to the rank-and-file. A CIO needs to blend top-down leadership with bottom-up listening. Often the best ideas will come from the ranks, so any CIO that can only be bothered to chat with her fellow executives will be missing out on much of the best data and direction available to her.

  • An isolationist approach to IT. Any CIO who can't see beyond her own company - and lacks access to her peers to get different ideas on best practices and such - deserves to get the boot. Collaboration within and beyond one's company walls is the order of the day.

What would you add to the list?