The Irreplaceable CIO?


Shares in Apple tanked after Steve Jobs announced a surprise leave of absence due to health reasons.

Few executives are as closely identified with their companies as Jobs is with Apple, which he founded and then led to new heights after returning from exile.

But Apple's reliance on one man made me think about succession planning for CIOs. The more important the CIO role is at a company, the more important to have some ideas for continuity in the event that the top IT exec is taken out of commission for whatever reason.

Yet not even 40 percent of businesses have a formal CIO succession plan in place, reported our Brian Watson last summer. The number was higher -- over 60 percent -- at large companies. But even that figure means a lot of companies aren't prepared for an orderly transition, much less a sudden change.

And sudden changes do happen -- as the Jobs situation (like other unpredictable scenarios) makes clear.


2 Comments for "The Irreplaceable CIO?"

  • Doug January 20, 2009 9:45 am

    The stats regarding the low number of companies that have formal succession plans is a problem, however Apple could have the greatest succession plan ever published with the best candidates in the industry and still be in trouble. The problem is that Steve Jobs is the brand and the product visionary. What Apple and others also need is an innovation process (maybe like Google's) where ideas come from all employees, prototypes are built, and the winning products/services go to market.

  • Dale Patterson January 20, 2009 7:56 am

    Are you kidding?! In an era when there's SO much competition to be the head mucky-muck, do you really think ANYONE would want to make it easy to be replaced? That's what the REAL issue is about. FORGET succession! Most people build their entire career around being UN-replaceable. Job security is the driver here, not how to be replaced.

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