Key Takeaways –
CIOs and IT leaders must redefine the relationship between their IT organization and the rest of the enterprise to take advantage of the agility and shortened cycle times provided by DevOps. The traditional view that considers IT as an arms-length contractor to something called “the business” prevents companies from realizing the benefits of the agile approach. An IT leader is responsible not only for the enterprise’s current set of IT capabilities, but also for the latent value of their IT asset – its ability to support future needs in an agile way. In an agile IT environment, it no longer makes sense to make investment decisions at the granularity of “projects”; nor to determine success or failure, status or progress, based on projects. IT leadership is about obtaining outcomes for the business, not about delivering on requirements handed to it, and this in turn requires deep changes in how we think about governance, risk, team structure – and ultimately, the very relationship between IT and the rest of the enterprise.
In the book A Seat at the Table Mark Schwartz explains how the traditional role of the CIO conflicts with an agile approach for software development. He explores what IT leadership looks like in an agile environment, advising CIOs to set a vision for IT and take accountability for business outcomes.
- InfoQ readers can download an excerpt from A Seat at the Table,
- InfoQ interviewed Schwartz about the way that business and IT interact and how to change it, how enterprise architecture can enable delivery of business value, how an agile governance model can look, the IT leadership role and what IT leaders can do to remove impediments, and his advice for the CIO of the future.
InfoQ: What made you decide to write this book? Mark Schwartz : When I was working on my first book, The Art of Business Value, I realized that one of the topics I was writing about was worth a lot more attention. That book was about the term “business value” – what it really means, how it is often abused in the IT context, and how it should guide our IT practices.
- One chapter in the book was about the role of the CIO in defining and interpreting business value for IT projects.
- And as I was writing, I realized that there were some fundamental conflicts in the CIO’s role.
- Think about it this way: Agile practices have development teams working directly with business representatives – product owners or onsite customers – to deliver value.
The teams are autonomous and empowered, focused only on meeting the business need. Well, if that is the case, who needs IT management and leadership? The business stakeholders define the need, and the team is on its own to fulfill the need. Something was wrong with the picture, and I figured that by writing a book about it, I would learn what.
What is a seat at the table about?
In A Seat at the Table he grabs hold of these concepts and disrupts the conventional dynamics around the role of the CIO in any organization. His progressive thinking is unmatched and a must read for leadership and practitioners of all kinds. Mark has found the IT leadership cheese after Agile moved it.
Is Mark Schwartz’s “a seat at the table” worth reading?
Mark Schwartz’s A Seat At The Table will be one of the most important books on technology and business leadership of our generation.’ Fresh thinking and useful advice fill the pages of Mark Schwartz’s A Seat at the Table, which strikes an encouraging, instructive tone about the future of IT leadership and the CIO’s expanding business role.
What is a reader’s Guide to a seat at the table?
A Reader’s Guide to A Seat at the Table is intended to add another dimension to the original book. This reader’s guide walks through A Seat at the Table chapter by chapter. The guide includes additional material for each chapter on: What has changed between the Waterfall/contractor-control world and the Agile world.
Why should CIOs read “seat at the table”?
While attaining that ‘seat at the table’ often refers to CIO career goals, the ideas and approaches explored in this book are essential reading for anyone hoping to advance in the IT profession today. I use to feel guilty when someone would ask me how do I get my leadership to understand DevOps if they refuse to accept it.