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The Artful CIO: Pitching an Order Processing System with Pictures

One CIO has turned his passion for graphs into a job skill.

CIO Mike Hugos loves to draw diagrams and show them off to peers. In fact, his diagrams helped him get a major technology project approved.

In 2000, Network Services Co., a $500 million distribution cooperative in Mount Prospect, Ill., weighed the pros and cons of developing a Web-based order processing system. The new system was a big gamble, with a price tag several times higher than any technology project the company had undertaken before.

Hugos created a one-page color diagram that explained how the system would work. The diagram became the reference point for everyone in the company and ultimately helped sway executives to sign off on the project.

"His diagrams are very effective," says Bob Mitchum, the company's CFO. "Not only does it help me understand the project, but it helps me turn around and explain it to the CEO and the board, who understand technology even less than I do."

Jim Rendon is a freelance writer based in New York. To comment on this story, email

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