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CTO Competencies

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Andy Gravatt

There has been some discussion on the Govloop-CTO Forum pertaining to CTO competencies and I thought I’d post a list of competencies that we’ve put together to build a curriculum for CTOs at the iCollege of the National Defense University. This list has been reviewed by hundreds of people (many of whom are CTOs) and I would really appreciate it if the 45,000+ members of GovLoop would take a look at them and let me know what you think.

  1. Policy – Policy is an important area for government CTOs. All of the work needs to be done within the framework of existing policies and the final product needs to support the policies of the organization.
  2. Emerging Technologies – The CTO must understand the emerging technologies that are coming on the scene and must be able to determine which ones could positively impact their organization.
  3. Cyber Security – The issue of security is huge these days and anything that is implemented in the organization must be secure.
  4. Leveraging Technology – How do you make the most of the new technologies within the resource constraints that we are all living within these days. Can the technologies actually save money by increasing efficiency?
  5. Leadership – It’s wonderful to find a technology that will work for your agency, but without leadership skills the new capability has little chance of being integrated into the processes and policies of the organization.
  6. Future Technologies Forecasting and Assessment – What does the future hold? Should the organization invest in a current technology or should they wait until the next version comes out? Can the organization actually drive the requirements for a technology, so it will better meet its needs?
  7. Evolving Infrastructure – Every organization’s IT infrastructure is continuously evolving. In the Enterprise Architecture we call this “moving from your ‘as-is’ architecture to your ‘to be’ architecture”. How do the new technologies impact this migration? If a new technology doesn’t take you where you are trying to go as an organization, should you buy it?
  8. Acquisition – Once you choose a technology, how do you get access to it?
  9. Capital Planning and Investment – You need to understand how the IT portfolio is managed in your organization. How are IT decisions made and where can you get money for a new project?
  10. Project Management – This is especially important in smaller organizations, because they may not have the technical managers necessary to implement new technologies. In this case, the CTO must be able to step in and ensure that the project will be successful by bringing strong PM capabilities to the project.

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Andy Gravatt

Great article, Andrew. Thanks for sharing.

The six competencies in your posting were innovative, trust, sharing information, team-oriented, intuition, and task-oriented. I think they are a great list.

I’ve always been a little nervous around soft skills and it’s probably because I’m a technical guy. I also teach, so many of the soft skills are beyond teaching. I might be able to help someone become “task-oriented”, but if you don’t have “intuition”, then there is absolutely nothing I can do for you. :-)

I like your list a lot and I think those skills are definitely needed in Gov 2.0 leaders and are useful in any leadership endeavor. I’ve been working with groups from DoD and OPM on developing a set of IT Program Management competencies and the soft skills in those sets match yours pretty closely.

I think “task-oriented” is probably the most important. Folks in these positions need to take Truman’s “The buck stops here” to heart. These positions rarely come with a “to-do” list, so you really need to be a person who takes hold of a job and runs with it.

The only competency I might add to your list is “gets along well with others”. If you don’t play well in the sandbox, you won’t be a good leader of anything.

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