5 Action Items for CIOs

An inspirational to-do list to keep government organizations growing.

It’s almost February and you’re already a month into the new year. Those new year’s resolutions that looked so promising on Jan. 1 have faded into memory as you went back to work and started dealing with the day-to-day work emergencies, budget drills and personnel problems.

To reignite your fire, I’ve proposed a simple CIO checklist of five items to do in 2012.

1. Recruit one new great person. You’re only as good as your team. A recent Steve Jobs biography said he was relentless in pursuing talent to work for Apple. This year, spend time trying to recruit one new great person to join your team. Pick a few people to start and stay in touch via an occasional lunch, coffee or quick phone call. This is about starting a conversation and a recruitment pipeline.

2. Move one service to the cloud. With all the talk about cloud computing, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with IaaS versus PaaS versus SaaS, private versus public cloud and more. While it’s important to think of a larger cloud strategy, commit to moving at least one service to the cloud. It can be simply moving your Web hosting to the cloud, or moving low-risk services like email or customer relationship management to a SaaS provider.

3. Go to one local technology get together. It’s easy to stay in the government bubble as you have enough day-to-day problems, however, it’s important to tap into your city’s tech community. With local CityCamps, developer Meetups and hackathons, and tech entrepreneur groups, to name a few, there likely are numerous events in your city every week. Make an attempt to go to at least one in 2012. At the very least, it’s great to feel the energy of those on the cutting edge of new technology and ideas. Further, these individuals are potentially future employees, future civic developers on your data and potential next-generation vendors.

4. Be active in one new social platform. There are tons of social networking platforms where senior technologists can engage. The abundance of options causes many to do nothing. Pick one social platform to use regularly in a professional capacity, and carve out at least five minutes each day to engage in that community. Social networks are a great way to get new ideas and learn from others while making you a better manager of new employees — and you’ll have some fun.

5. Reimagine one key service. With budget pressures and the push toward consolidation, each day you’ll be making cuts left and right, chipping away at services. In the midst of all these incremental cuts, pick one key service to completely reimagine — think about what you’d do if you had to start the service from scratch. Budget constraints won’t be solved with only small chipping away, but will need creative thinking about how government does business. Need ideas? Join the Open311 council and help structure what 311 formats should look like. Reimagine parking in your city in the age of smartphones, open data and wireless payments. Rethink town halls and city council meetings in an age of iPads, social media and streaming video.

Make 2012 a year of growth for you personally and for your organization. If you make a good run at these five items on the CIO checklist, I think you’ll be happy when you start 2013 and look back at the progress you’ve made.


Miriam Jones is a former chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.
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