A Seat at the Table

IT Leadership in the Age of Agility


Iconoclastic CIO Mark Schwartz reveals how IT leaders must throw off the old attitudes and assumptions and claim their rightful seat at the C-suite table.

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Ebook: What Does it Mean to Lead IT

Download the “What Does it Mean to Lead IT” ebook by Mark Schwartz.

In this eBook, Mark Schwartz show just how deep a change is required in how we think about the craft of the IT leader and the very basis of how IT fits into the enterprise. His conclusions are surprising and provocative.

Additional Book Info

  • Description

    Agile, Lean, and DevOps approaches are radical game-changers. They provide a fundamentally different way to think about how IT fits into the enterprise, how IT leaders lead, and how IT can harness technology to accomplish the objectives of the enterprise. But honest and open conversations are not taking place at the interface between management and Agile delivery teams.  In A Seat at the Table,  CIO Mark Schwartz explores the role of IT leadership as it is now and the role of IT leadership as it should be—an integral part of the value creation engine.

    Asking two critical questions, how can IT harness Agility to achieve the best value for the enterprise and how can IT redefine its relationship with the enterprise to maximize this value, and in the process, earn that seat at the table, Schwartz shows that the only way to become an Agile IT leader in today’s world is to be courageous—to throw off many of the attitudes and assumptions that have left CIOs struggling to gain a seat at the table, to proceed in bold strokes, and to lead the enterprise in seizing opportunities to create business value through technology.














    10 RISK

    11 QUALITY

    12 SHADOW IT






  • Mark Schwartz’s A Seat At The Table will be one of the most important books on technology and business leadership of our generation.”
    —Gene Kim, co-author of The DevOps Handbook and The Phoenix Project


    Fresh thinking and useful advice fill the pages of Mark Schwartz’s A Seat at the Table, which strikes an encouraging, instructive tone about the future of IT leadership and the CIO’s expanding business role. “If we cannot know the future, then we have to think a bit differently,” he writes. And he does just that. Mark’s argument that IT executives must change their behaviors—dropping the “command and control” mindset in favor of community building and Agile leadership practices—resonates throughout this well-organized, thoughtful book. While attaining that “seat at the table” often refers to CIO career goals, the ideas and approaches explored in this book are essential reading for anyone hoping to advance in the IT profession today.  

    —Maryfran Johnson, Executive Director of CIO Programs, IDG (International Data Group)

    I use to feel guilty when someone would ask me how do I get my leadership to understand DevOps if they refuse to accept it. My answer was, basically, you can’t. Now I can give them a copy of A Seat at the Table.

    —John Willis, Co-Author The DevOps Handbook

    Mark Schwartz is a rare combination: a deep thinker who has also applied lean, Agile, and DevOps principles at the highest level, leading an extraordinary Agile transformation in the US Federal Government at USCIS. In this book, he shows how modern IT leaders succeed by driving business outcomes rather than operating an order-taking function. This shift in organizational mindset is critical to any successful technology transformation but requires substantial changes in behavior at every level, and Mark’s thorough analysis will prove invaluable to leaders who must execute it.

    Jez Humble, CTO, DevOps Research & Assessment LLC

    If you’re a CIO, read this book. If you’re not a CIO but work closely with one, read this book.

    Mark Schwartz is the best of iconoclasts. He brings deep insights from his unique erudition and real-world experience—ranging from a startup to government agency—in untangling the dilemma of the CIO in the second decade of Agile. There aren’t many people who can swing from Horace to Daniel Pink without losing a breath. And there aren’t many who can critique Agile and Waterfall with equal insight. This is a surprising book—well worth your (20%) time.

    —Sam Guckenheimer, Product Owner, Visual Studio Team Services, Microsoft

    As with his book The Art of Business Value, Mark Schwartz directly confronts the tensions that exist across the corporate IT landscape, showing us how we got here and what to do about it. Almost every page contains a situation I’ve seen in my day-to-day work, but that have not been articulated before. [A Seat at the Table is] required reading for anyone seeking to understand how IT should work with an organization to achieve success in an Agile age.

    —Ian Miell, Lead Software Architect, Financial Services

    This book should be required reading for all technology and business leaders who are serious about digital transformation.  It takes you on a provocative, fun, and comprehensive tour of the key areas that will promote and ignite agility, creativity, learning, community and collaboration.

    This book may be about taking a seat, but this is no time to be sitting still!   IT leaders will be convinced that their job is now about incentivizing and inspiring courage, passion, and technical excellence in service of business objectives rather than blindly servicing requirements. You will find practical advice on how to deal with projects, scope creep, IT assets, governance, security, risk management, quality, and shadow IT.

    —Jason Cox, Director, Systems Engineering, The Walt Disney Company

    In his first book, The Art of Business Value, Mark brought together a unique understanding of modern techniques—Agile, DevOps, and Continuous Delivery. In A Seat at the Table he grabs hold of these concepts and disrupts the conventional dynamics around the role of the CIO in any organization. His progressive thinking is unmatched and a must read for leadership and practitioners of all kinds.

    —Luke McCormack, former CIO of the Department of Homeland Security

    Mark has found the IT leadership cheese after Agile moved it. Finally, an idea of how to structure IT, including leadership and the teams, and joining the business and IT together!

    Joshua Seckel, Chief Engineer at WhiteHawk CEC, Inc.

    High performing organizations see technology as a strategic capability of their business. The walls, inertia, and confusion of seats, sides and responsibilities does not exist for them. Yet many organizations still retain legacy mindsets and behaviors that limit their opportunities to improve, innovate, and inspire their people. Mark shows the steps needed to break free of these challenges and unlock potential, speed, and growth. His advice is pragmatic, practical, and to the point.

    —Barry O’Reilly, co-author of The Lean Enterprise

    “Agile” is more than a new software development practice; it is a new way to think, engage, and lead. As Mark Schwartz points out in his compelling new book, A Seat at the Table, when CIOs re-conceptualize their role based on Agile principles, they will stop worrying about having a seat on the table, and start realizing all of the full potential of IT.

    Martha Heller, CEO of Heller Search Associates and author Be the Business: CIOs in the New Era of IT

  • Pages: 336

    Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches


    • Paperback 978-1942788119
    • ePub 978-1942788126
    • Kindle 978-1942788133

    Publication: September 12, 2017

  • Length: 9 hours, 33 minutes

    Type: Audio Download

    ISBN: 9781942788461

    Narrator: Ron Butler

DOES 2017 London Presentation

What Does it Mean to Lead IT?

In an era of autonomous teams working directly with business users and product owners, what is the role of IT Leadership? We talk a lot about the role of CIOs in leading the transformation to DevOps and to digital services, but what then? What does an IT Leader do once an organization has embraced DevOps? And what does it mean to be an Agile CIO?

For Mark Schwartz, this is a pressing issue. As a CIO leading a DevOps transformation in the most challenging of environments, he is facing an existential question. As he puts it: “um, what do I do now?” The literature on IT leadership does not concern itself with today’s advances in Agility and DevOps, and the Agile and DevOps worlds do not seem to talk much about what they expect IT leaders to be doing. An Agile CIO must do more than oversee Agile projects.

In this session, Mr. Schwartz will bring the principles of Agility to bear on the practice of IT Leadership, and show just how deep a change is required in how we think about not just the craft of the IT leader, but the very basis of how IT fits into the enterprise. His conclusions are surprising and provocative.

Additional Books By The Author

The (Delicate) Art of Bureaucracy

Mark Schwartz, author of leadership classics A Seat at the Table and The Art of Business Value, reveals a new (empowering) model for the often soul-shattering, frustrating, Kafkaesque nightmare we call bureaucracy.

War and Peace and IT

Available Now!
In the latest book from iconoclastic CIO Mark Schwartz, find out why and how executives and business leaders must create a shared strategy with their IT organizations to drive innovation, enhance their competitive positioning, increase revenue, and delight customers.

A Seat at the Table & The Art of Business Value – Two Book Bundle

For the first time, enjoy Mark Schwartz's two books on IT leadership in the modern enterprise world in one bundle. A Seat at the Table and The Art of Business Value pave the path for the modern CIO and IT department.

A Reader’s Guide to A Seat at the Table

A Reader's Guide to A Seat at the Table is intended to add another dimension to the original book. This reader's guide walks through A Seat at the Table chapter by chapter.

The guide includes additional material for each chapter on:
• What has changed between the Waterfall/contractor-control world and the Agile world.
• The key points of the chapter.
• The concrete actions that IT leaders should take away from the chapter.
• Questions to help stimulate further debate.
• And more.

A Seat at the Table

Iconoclastic CIO Mark Schwartz reveals how IT leaders must throw off the old attitudes and assumptions and claim their rightful seat at the C-suite table.