Introduction and goals

by Peter Kretzman

Joining some 89 million of my fellow netizens, I’m starting a blog. But there will be no pictures of my dog here. Instead, this one will concern itself with what I’m calling “Intensely practical lessons learned in the CTO/CIO trenches.”

Despite my considerable and immutable youth (I assure you that this is true), I’ve had a 25-year career in information technology, serving as a senior executive at Internet companies for the last ten or so of those years. I’m a strange combination, I think sometimes: a CTO who rose up through the ranks of software development, then got “religion” on project management and operational issues, and who maintains an extremely strong interest in and affinity for business issues, particularly those revolving around customers. I’m also a bit of an amateur “internet sociologist”, fascinated by what makes such companies succeed and fail, rise and fall. This admixture will make for some odd, but I hope interesting, topic choices at times.

I searched around the blogosphere (perhaps rightly one of the top most hated words on the internet), looking for something similar to the kind of blog I envisioned, and frankly, I couldn’t find it. Listed at the bottom of this post are links to some of the CTO/CIO blogs I did find, and I welcome people’s comments that point me to useful blogs that I might have missed.

One thing I’ve learned as an executive is the value of stating one’s goals at the outset, so here are mine for this blog:

  • address what I see as common information technology issues / problems, ones that span just about every company;
  • bring in real-world experiences and anecdotes related to the topic, with names changed to protect the guilty;
  • provide “meaty” posts on the topic at hand, instilled with personal perspective;
  • post at least once a week;
  • provide useful topic-related links in each posting (what I’m calling my Lagniappe section).

This blog will be all over the map of the technology executive experience: I have at least 50 topics already jotted down, just off the top of my head. I plan to cover such things as vendor management, managing expectations, metrics, working with senior management, keeping up with technology, hiring and firing, application portfolio management. I’ll be writing a lot about what I regard as the key p-p-p-pillars of a CTO’s purview: People, Process, Product, Projects, Performance. There won’t necessarily be a logical progression of topic from post to post; I’ll just see where the spirit moves me.

So, what won’t this blog be about? It’ll of course be CTO/CIO-oriented, but one key thing that I have discovered from doing those jobs is that technology itself is really only about 10% of the job. So you’ll see only about 10% of my posts, at most, covering purely technical topics. Unlike one CTO blog I found, you will never see lists of instructions here for configuring hardware or software, with phrases like “Mount the Longhorn x86 Beta 3 ISO image on the VM, and boot the image.” That stuff certainly has its place, but it just won’t be here.

As does just about every blog, I hope to inspire a certain quantity of quality dialog on the topics I cover, but that will probably have to wait for a bit of traffic to build. Whether you agree or disagree with my stances, please consider chiming in with your own personal experiences regarding the topic. And remember I’m new here to the blogging world, so I’ll be learning tools and tips as I go.

Lagniappe:

Other CTO/CIO-oriented blogs: I was aiming for relatively generalist (not product-specific) blogs of this nature, ones that are still being kept current, with typically at least three posts a month. As I noted, though, I didn’t find very many of these, so not all of the ones below fit that criterion. These are not listed in any particular order (and were updated in November, 2009; for a more accurate look at current top CTO/CIO blogs, consult my blogroll):

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Duane Bedard July 10, 2007 at 10:43 am

Peter, glad to see you out and blogging. I think your plan to focus primarily on things non-technical is wise. We in IT tend to be more comfortable dealing with technology but as you point out, technology is a very small part of what makes an IT organization run. In my 15 year consulting career, I’ve been immersed in over 20 organizations, large and small. In many cases consultants were called in to solve a perceived technology problem. Without exception, technology was not the primary roadblock preventing the organization from delivering successful systems. Lack of leadership, focus, good (appropriate) processes, communication and teamwork were most often the issues.

Many in the technology industry are uncomfortable dealing with these topics but if we want to make significant improvement in the productivity of IT organizations (or any other organization for that matter), these are the issues with the most potential for impact.

I look forward to hearing your take on these and more topics.

Peter Kretzman July 12, 2007 at 12:43 pm

Spot on, Duane. And as you can see from my subsequent post, I’m in full agreement. We all love technology, but that’s almost never the part where companies fall down. Thanks for commenting.

Antonio Chagoury April 1, 2008 at 8:21 pm

Hi There,

Thank you for the plug. I had never noticed that you had found my website to contain useful information ;-)

Thanks again,

http://www.cto20.com

Lars Struwe Christensen November 8, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Just for your information, my CTO blog has moved slightly:

http://www.giritech.com/int/Giritech/CTO-Blog

And thanks for linking to it. I would be interested in your comments to some of the subjects we’re discussing.

/Lars

BTW, I’m no longer with Giritech, but my blog is still being updated. I’ll, eventually, create a new blog :-)

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