In The Intelligent Organisation, academic John Beckford tackles the I in CIO – information. The book’s sub title tells you from the off what Beckford is attempting, “Realising the value of information” and he wastes no time in making his argument in this Routledge published title.

Beckford is visiting professor for the University College London and the for the Centre for Information Management at Loughborough University, he’s also a consultant.

I was led to Beckford’s book by CIO 100 member James Robbins, CIO for Northumbria Water who tells me he’s drawn a lot from Beckford’s thinking and research during his career in business technology leadership.

“The Intelligent Organisation must have over £50,000 worth of consulting in one handy manual,” the Newcastle based CIO says.

The Intelligent Organisation is an investment in time and thinking and is not a title you’ll skip though on a long train trip or flight. This is a well thought out and demanding read, but then the topic requires that. What I greatly valued was the focus on information, rather than technology.

“Organisations (well, the people really) are often seduced into IT projects with the prospect of better equipment and faster data rather than better information,” Beckford rightly argues in the introductory chapter. He goes on to argue:

“The information challenge is to escape the thrall of technology and to design whole organisations as adaptive systems embedding distributed control though information,” distributed control through information sets out Beckford’s argument for the rest of the title and this is where you as the CIO reader will really exercise your intellect. Beckford sprinkles the title with case studies and vignettes and clearly has real insight into real organisations and as a result does not pretend that CIOs changing the structure of the organisation to be information led face anything other than a very steep uphill challenge.

“The challenge for contemporary leaders is to create the behavioural and cultural conditions under which individuals within the organisation are able to empower themselves.”

A challenging read but one that should be saluted for focusing on information and not technology.

The Intelligent Organisation, by John Beckford, published by Routledge