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  • CFO.com | US

Harmony in the C-Suite

By zeroing in on commonalities, CFOs and CIOs can set the table for overcoming areas of discord.

At the other end of the spectrum, the lowest CIO score was 72 for “We jointly address the obstacles to the execution of our technology strategy.” On the CFO side, the least-agreed-with statement — “We have a high level of agreement on the resources needed to realize our strategic goals.” — garnered a score of just 61.

The fact that CFOs are more critical of the relationship underscores their attention to detail, says Glaser. “Being precise is in their nature, versus the big-picture nature of the CIO,” she says. “The CFO is probably going to scrutinize the relationship for perfection and therefore will have a higher standard for what ‘good’ looks like.”

Yet there was a significant degree of alignment in terms of the statements that received the respective groups’ higher scores. In addition to the mutual respect, both groups strongly agreed that they have a shared understanding of the current business environment, openly share information necessary to successfully execute technology strategies, and have a high level of trust in one another.

Both groups also gave low scores to some statements, including “We jointly address the obstacles to executing our technology strategies” and “We have a shared sense of urgency for implementing our technology strategies.” Those are areas that obviously need some work.

It’s not surprising, though, that the two groups had a number of markedly differing perceptions. The statement about agreeing on resources for strategic goals, which CFOs ranked dead last, came in at 13th out of the 27 statements in the CIOs’ view. Even more divergent were their assessments on whether they communicate sufficiently about the challenges to executing technology strategy: the IT execs gave that statement their 6th-highest score, while the finance chiefs ranked it 25th.

Statements to which CFOs gave high scores and CIOs low ones included “We have a high level of agreement on the approach to innovation needed to be competitive in the marketplace” and “We know what we need to do in our respective roles to implement our technology strategies.”

The key to easing the discord is gaining an appreciation for the areas of concurrence, according to Glaser. “What I try to do is first measure the agreements people have so they can celebrate successes around those, and then build on that by putting the conflicts on the table so they don’t become toxic,” she says. From there, perhaps, CFOs and CIOs can learn to make beautiful music together.

 

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