Laughing at the CIO: A Parable and Prescription for IT Leadership

Mike Freeman (West Midlands CILIP, Coventry, UK)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 28 March 2008




Freeman, M. (2008), "Laughing at the CIO: A Parable and Prescription for IT Leadership", New Library World, Vol. 109 No. 3/4, pp. 200-201.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Another one of those earnest US guides purporting to show readers how to survive and prosper in the information‐rich business world of today. It is written by a faculty member of the University of Washington's iSchool. The author is also lauded as “a worldwide leader in the field of content management” (whatever that may mean). So, as he says, “information management is often practiced as a combination of mumbo jumbo and voodoo”. This reviewer concurs – the IT geek will inherit the earth!

Ambitiously, the author tries to cover all bases in his proposed readership profile: Chief Information Officers (CIOs), students, project staff and consultants, managers and executives and so on … The first half of the book is a fictional account – a parable, really – of a new CIO's travails in setting up an Information Department in a Company, replete with mini‐biographies of the dramatis personae. Loaded with jargon and Americanisms, this fictional tale is not easy to read and even more difficult to understand. It is a brave effort, but just does not work. Earnest precepts and little nuggets of information lie scattered throughout the book, and the whole text is illustrated by witty Early Victorian and Georgian vignettes. Chapter headings after the initial fictional parable give a flavour of the book's mission: “Do less”, Devolve information projects”, Engage intelligently”, Move management forwards” and so on …

So, a guide for IT geeks primarily, written in a semi‐jokey style with a strong American bias and lots of IT/business jargon for the cognoscenti. There is a good index and the book is well produced and laid out. All in all, of limited value and interest to most librarians and “Information guys” (as the author calls them).

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