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The CIO as Tarzan
Move over collaborative technology, the CIO is going primitive!

New Media on Ulitzer

Today, CIOs are turned on, You Tubed-in and highly social.  They use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. 

They blog and appear in videos and engage with their constituents via collaborative technologies. Very hi tech but very low touch.

Advice to CIOs: Go Primitive
The question is: are we relying too much on technology to communicate our messages and forgetting the human element? It might seem blasphemous to even suggest not using technology to connect and communicate, but pull back for a moment.  Have you considered going primitive?
The Urban Dictionary explains going primitive as, "Instead of texting a long and detailed story, someone suggests a phone call as a more direct way to have the conversation," as in I'm good with texting but this is giving me carpel tunnel, let's "go primitive" I'll call you tomorrow at 8.  

Going primitive—live phone calls and in-person meetings—can give CIOs a strategic advantage for certain critical communications.

The Good Old Days
Remember what it was like to walk in to someone's office, cup of java in hand, and just sit down for a chat? For many of us, that concept is now so foreign, it seems like it's from the BC era (Before Collaboration).  But returning to that era might not be such a bad idea.  Going primitive affords CIOs the opportunity to engage on a more personal level, and depending on the purpose of the communication, add an emotional factor that can enhance  communication effectiveness and even influence the outcome.

The Primitive Advantage
There is definitely a time to use collaborative and social technologies: Twitter, email, blogs, conference calls, video conferencing etc. all offer great productivity gains and help reduce travel time and expense.   But there are definitely situations when live face time trumps productivity.

So when SHOULD a CIO go primitive and what do you gain?

1. When body language can assist or augment your IT message.  When your communication could be misinterpreted, when you need body language to aid in understanding, primitive might be a better choice.  If the tone of your voice is as important as the message, a live phone call is better than a Twitter or email post with an attached emoticon.  Does the audience need to see your facial expression in order to understand the seriousness of a message? In-person can give you that experience.

However, there is one technology alternative that can actually capture the nuances of body language: a really good Telepresence system. Raised eyebrows or a furrow on your forehead can all be transmitted in detail with a sophisticated system.  But even with some of the best Telepresence equipment, there is a time when in-person primitive is your best communication vehicle.

For example, you would not want to announce a reduction in IT staff via an email or voice-mail message, and an in-person explanation of a controversial IT initiative allows your gestures and facial expressions to add weight to your argument. The key is deciding on the purpose of your communication. This can influence your choice of primitive vs. technology alternatives.

2. When attempting to persuade or influence.  Any communication that is based on persuasion would benefit from a live delivery. Use collaborative or social technologies (Twitter, email, a blog post) when you are simply delivering information or expanding on data points. If your communication needs the nuances of argument and influence, then opt for in-person delivery.  Even Aristotle believed that emotional skills could aid an argument and increase rhetoric.

Case in point: if you feel passionate about a new IT initiative, then let listeners hear it in your voice and see the excitement and conviction in your facial expressions. Build your case with logic and a touch of emotional persuasion.  A Tweet just does not let you connect emotionally or influence listeners.

3.  When building or nurturing strategic alliances. For many CIOs, it is a very political world out there, and building your network and solidifying relationships becomes key to staying on top. 

Setting up weekly meetings with your CEO via telephone or live meeting can be instrumental in keeping your well-earned  "seat at the table."   Telepresence meetings might be fine for occasional political "tune-ups" or delivering an information up-date, but joking to your CEO that you'd like to buy him a virtual drink is just not the same as sitting in a restaurant ordering him a dry Bombay Sapphire martini, with two olives, stirred, not shaken.

Collaborative technologies and social media are here to stay, and they serve a vital communication function for CIOs and IT managers. The key to understanding when to use technology vs. when to go primitive is based on three criteria:  1) decide on the purpose of your communication, 2) understand the needs of your audience and 3) pre-plan your desired outcome.

Based on this criteria, sometimes your goal is better served when your audience can see the wink of your eye rather than a winking emoticon.

About Core Ideas
Loraine Antrim is co-founder of Core Ideas Communication, a communications consulting agency focused on presentation development and media training for C-suite executives. Core Ideas enables executives to package and communicate relevant and compelling messages in their presentations and interviews. Loraine's expertise is killing butterflies. You know, butterflies: the feeling in your stomach before you have to present or speak in public. Loraine works with executives to create a powerful story, memorable messages and an authentic delivery style. Confidence kicks in, and butterflies scatter. Nice work killing butterflies! You can contact Loraine at: manager at

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Perhaps CIOs are just examples of the "Modern Man," as the late comedian George Carlin would put it.

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loresayer wrote: Perhaps CIOs are just examples of the "Modern Man," as the late comedian George Carlin would put it.
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