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Keep vendors at arms length

William Pence, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Napster, often gets contacted by IT vendors that "want me to meet with 15 people". He responds by asking for a rate sheet and giving them a written rundown of his technology needs. "We don't have a lot of time for the traditional sales cycle," says Pence.

Just say no - at first

A boss at a previous employer left IT executive James Dallas sitting in a waiting room for not one, not two, not three, but four scheduled meetings. When Dallas persisted and requested a fifth meeting, the boss accepted the request within two minutes. Now, as CIO at Medtronic, Dallas routinely tells IT workers "no" when they first propose ideas to him. "I want to see who has passion -- who won't give up," he says.

Let's do it my way

Barry Shuler, senior vice president of IT strategy and CTO at Marriott International, says his natural style in working with end users "is more velvet two-by-four than it is carrot." Shuler has changed that approach over the years in order to get IT projects approved. "But," he says, "I still sometimes feel, if you could just see how you could change things my way, we could get things done."

Getting 'paranoid' about security

Yahoo has a small, select team of IT security staff who are embedded into each of the company's engineering and product management groups. "We felt strongly that security can become an afterthought if it's created as a separate organisation," Yahoo CIO Lars Rabbe says. "We thought it was important to make it part of the process, so that security becomes part of the job." The security team's adopted name pretty much ensures that it won't be an afterthought: In a move perhaps more fitting for a punk band, the security team call themselves the “Paranoids”.