Changing the IT Leader's Mindset

    Robina Chatham and Brian Sutton

    Published by

    IT Governance





    Reviewed by

    Peter Wheatcroft CEng FIET FBCS CITP FCMI


    7 out of 10

    IT Governance Publishing is a respected player in the rigorous and methodological side of IS with many publications on ISO 27001, ISO 38500 and other standards to their credit. A previous offering from them, also written by an IT Industry Awards finalist, on 'IT Induction and Information Security Awareness', was my ‘best read’ of 2010.  

    The book reviewed here is not the same as the others in their portfolio, however. It is written by two authors - both of them PhDs - with extensive industry experience who tackle a much softer side of IT management, which is how IT leaders should think.

    This is based heavily on evolutionary psychology and examination of such techniques as the Myers-Briggs working preferences model as a way of showing that a stereotypical IT leader will be introverted and data rational, which, it is claimed, is at odds with the personality type of a typical CEO.

    Unfortunately, despite the extensive research that has been done in the UK into this aspect, this is not well presented in this book although extensive references are made to other sources. As some of these sources are other books written by the authors, it can be seen that such references may become circular. It alludes to much industry research but there are no IT case studies.

    However, it has short chapters structured around ten different themes that can be easily assimilated one at a time. Each theme is summarised by a ‘Key Ideas from this Chapter’ section, which is a useful way of summing up and for subsequent reference - important as there is no index.

    I liked the concept of needing to have a future rather than a past focus in conversations with business colleagues as it is very easy to fall back into defending last month’s SLA statistics rather than next month’s big delivery.

    One worrying aspect of the overall theme, which was only qualified in the last chapter, is that an IT leader should be all about change and innovation. This is laudable but neglects the fact that, as up to 75 per cent of a typical corporate budget is about ‘keeping the lights on’, anyone running such a function has to worry about that as well. Perhaps this is an area where the IT leader will need a strong operational subordinate to take care of that side of the business?

    The book is about IT leadership but the competencies and working styles explored here are generic to other specialist roles such as facilities management. So the appeal of this book can be broadened to any role that doesn’t already sit at the board table. 

    Further information: IT Governance

    August 2012