Saying no -- the right way -- may be the most powerful skill a CIO can learn. A smart "no" can set boundaries and enhance your leadership position. A stupid "no" can diminish your authority and make enemies.
How a CIO gets to no depends on the context, of course. Telling the CEO he can't connect his iPad to the corporate network is different from letting down an employee keen to be promoted.
Despite the old saw that IT has to stop being the Department of No, reasons to say no abound: a strict bring-your-own-device policy means some devices won't be supported. A new piece of technology won't conform to internal standards. A proposal makes no sense. A proposal makes sense, but there's already too much work and not enough money. The CEO doesn't like it. A request doesn't support corporate goals. A big idea is too much for a risk-averse culture.
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