I remember reading a while back that Kanye West called himself the next Steve Jobs. He followed it up by acknowledging that, actually, Jobs was too unworthy a comparison, and upgraded to Willy Wonka instead. He worked this Wonka magic a few weeks ago at the Billboard Music Awards to a booing crowd and a trigger-happy censor that left viewers at home wondering if their cable had gone out. No matter, though. As a self-proclaimed god, when he calls for his damn croissants, well, he’s going to get them.
While there’s no doubting his musical talent (Kanye is one of the most prodigious and eclectic musicians alive), we’re wondering whether he would have the skills to survive in business. In particular, would he make a great IT leader? With his honorary doctorate sash fresh on his shoulders, what kind of C-suite exec would Dr. West make? Just for fun, let’s examine the possibilities of Yeezy as CIO:
Kanye is so friendly and likable, he’d inspire IT to bust out of their comfort zones and connect with business more frequently. In fact, earlier in May, he made national news headlines when he was caught ALMOST smiling at a basketball game. Maybe he’ll be caught ALMOST forging camaraderie with his fellow C-suite executives, too.
As the owner of data and technical resources, IT is in charge of integrating applications and data to generate business intelligence. Well, that’s right up Kanye’s alley. He is the master integrator. He can seemingly integrate anything, no matter how disparate or…counter-intuitive. Who knew that a topless Kim Kardashian would make such a great motorcycle safety device? Or that diamonds and teeth would go so well together that one could “replace” a row of the other? Or that shutters could be integrated into sunglasses? Not us...only someone as visionary as Kanye.
A CIO needs to be able to harness technology to drive the business forward, which means s/he needs to be able to bring both technical and business people together to collaborate in pursuit of a common cause. Kanye’s a natural here, and he doesn’t even need a teleprompter to be inspiring, as evidenced during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina fundraiser. His words,”George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” have poured balm in many wounds and gone a long way towards repairing race relations in America.
CIOs — and all C-suite executives — need to have small egos, because they need to place the success of their team ahead of their own. This fits Kanye to a tee. Such an international megastar could easily have an ego approaching the 8th wonder of the world in size, but not Kanye. He exudes humility from every pore. His “greatest pain in life is that he will never be able to see himself perform live” — a humble sentiment from such a great man. Indeed, songs titled “I Am A God” and albums titled “Yeezus” go a long way to reinforce Kanye’s natural modesty.
Okay, I’ve socked it to Kanye thus far in this article. But like anyone else, he’s not all bad. There’s real talent there, or he would not be where he is (and I’m actually jealous of where he is). So here are the ways where Kanye as IT leader would likely excel:
There’s certainly no arguing over whether or not ‘Ye is innovative. Every record he drops is a departure and a progression from whatever he’s done previously. As a lyricist, sampler, and producer, he’s always reaching forward. On top of this, his innovation branches out beyond music and into other industries like filmmaking and fashion design. Yeezy’s IT department would be mad-innovative.
CIOs may have problems getting money - indeed, each year they’re told to do more with even less budget - but Kanye won’t. After all, he “lost $30 million, so [he] spent another $30 million, and unlike Hammer, $30 million can’t hurt [him].” Even with all that money, though, Kanye would be a careful spender, as he can apparently spot a gold-digger from miles away. And finally, if he runs out of cash, he can always find creative ways to get more — like selling ads on the side of his head. So mark my words, he’d find a way to get his IT projects funded.
A key success factor for CIOs — and every manager — is to give praise and recognition when praise and recognition are due. Kanye clearly feels the same way — about himself and Beyonce. Several times now he has disrupted a musical awards presentation or publicly pontificated about why he or Beyonce deserved to win. These antics may not stand him in good stead with other members of the C-suite (or with the general public, for that matter), but at least you know that if you’re on his team (or if you’re Beyonce), he is going to have your back.
What do y’all think of Kanye as CIO? Throw your diamonds in the sky if you feel the vibe...