Thinking Like Battle-tested CIOs - Technology Management for non-tech Executives

Thoughtful decision-making and successful outcomes are vital in the business workplace. An organization’s culture can steer the decision-making process, towards productive or chaotic.
“An organization’s decision culture is defined as…people cooperating with one another for desired outcomes,” says Paul Theisen, principal and founder of TAG CXO.
It’s the culture by which an organization makes decisions. How an executive team makes decisions, spends money and holds each other accountable for those decisions. The most important component of a decision culture is integrity, without it, the culture, and its decisions, will fail. Decision making looks different for different companies. At smaller start-ups, everyone wears multiple hats and may make decisions as a democracy, where everyone gets a vote. Mid to larger companies may be bureaucratic with a decision-making committee or maybe the CEO makes all the decisions – essentially autocratic. When deciding whether to move forward with an IT-related project, the decision culture includes everything that precedes a decision to fund a project for implementation and adoption. This culture can be structured or unstructured, efficient or inefficient, it depends on the culture of the company, Theisen says.

Herein lies the pyramid of chaos.

The pyramid of chaos, as Theisen has coined it, is a level of decision-making organization, or disorganization, and ultimately a pattern of maturity. The pyramid of chaos includes four levels.

Level 1

At the bottom is Level 1. Everyone and no one are making the decisions. The decision-making process is not structured or managed, it’s a free-for-all. Executives have limited time, their priorities are constantly shifting and they don’t have the authority to make decisions.

“A free-for-all doesn’t work, it wastes a lot of time and doesn’t achieve much,” Theisen says.

Level 2

Level 2 is a representative committee. They are an appointed group of decision makers, but they usually don’t have the time, it’s not a priority and no one is truly accountable.

“Where shared accountability exists, ultimately nobody is really accountable,” Theisen says.

Level 3

A dedicated project management office is Level 3. This is a step in the right direction but the group doesn’t have the necessary authority. They only present the evidence to the CEO or another executive to make the decisions.

“How are we, once and forever and finally, going to identify the most important things that need to be done, make a decision to fund those, have the authority to do it, and have the accountability to go get it done?” Theisen asks.

Level 4

The answer, and the goal, is Level 4. Organizations will mature and arrive at a chief digital officer or chief transformation office. It’s no longer a free-for-all, no longer a committee and no longer a project management office.

A healthy and successful decision culture is led by an acting and empowered executive sitting at the top, with the necessary 50,000-foot view. This leader has the time, fixed priorities, authority, accountability and is infused with resources to make the decisions to get the job done.

Once an organization has matured to Level 4 and decisions are being made efficiently, read more about how to take a project from implementation to adoption: TAG CXO has many experienced and successful decision makers, check out our team here:

About TAG CXO:

Based in Phoenix, Arizona, TAG CXO is a privately held company, providing Interim and Fractional IT leadership executives, founded in 2019. The company maintains a bench of industry-trained, enterprise-level executives, available on demand to mid-market CEOs. TAG CXO executives help to round out a firm’s leadership team and close the IT talent gap with fully qualified expertise, offering a more affordable, lower-risk option than hiring full-time staff. Learn more at: