Fire your CIO, please!

Alex Barrera
2 min readOct 20, 2017
Photo by Glen Noble on Unsplash

I recently attended a major technology conference. I had the luck, or the disgrace to introduce on stage several Chief Innovation Officers (CIO) from significant organizations.

What was my surprise when all defaulted to Spanish for their speech. This wasn’t a politically motivated move or a technicality. They spoke in Spanish because they didn’t know English.

If in 2017, your CIO doesn’t speak fluent English, you should seriously rethink your innovation strategy.

Having a Shakespeare-deficient CIO is an outrageous disadvantage.

You could argue that they do know English, not enough, though, to deliver a coherent talk. Still, having a Shakespeare-deficient CIO is an outrageous disadvantage.

A big part of innovation rests on having a broad perspective of what’s happening out there. The more diverse and comprehensive, the better. To achieve such mindset, you need, for starters, to read plenty. And guess what, most of what you need is in English.

By reading though, I don’t mean the news, but severe technical and profound papers. Statistics, experimental whitepapers or even code. A lack of proper English will bar your CIO from the necessary knowledge to perform his or her duties.

Reading isn’t enough. Good innovators mingle. Good CIOs build extensive networks. This entreats being fluent with the language and with social interactions.

Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing. — Robert Benchley

Innovating isn’t only about knowledge. It’s about having access to other information silos, aka brains aka people. People that, not only share their know-how but can bring valuable expertise in-house.

Appointing a CIO that commands close to zero English is, at best, misfortune, at worse, a clear sign that you aren’t serious enough about innovation.

Innovation isn’t a side-project activity in an organization. It’s the heart that keeps your business from collapsing. Make sure you make it a vital part of your company by maximizing your potential.

Learn, frigging, English!

Irony #1: If you’ve finished reading this post it means you do know your English, so this isn’t about you, probably ;)

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Alex Barrera

Chief Editor at The Aleph Report (@thealeph_report), CEO at, Cofounder & associated editor @tech_eu, former editor @KernelMag.