Sunday, July 7, 2013

CIO as Chief Improvement Officer III: How do you know when it's time for an Organizational Re-Design?

Organization changes should be built into strong management practices.

Dysfunction, infighting, overlapping roles, and inefficiencies are not always easy to uncover. It takes processes, methodology, and practices to identify the causes of IT ineffectiveness and inefficiency, CIOs as Chief Improvement Officer: How do you know when it’s time for an organizational re-design?
  • IT Assessment: IT assessment is a great way to help identify what is right and wrong in your environment. The IT assessment should cover people, processes, products, and partners and should be performed by an external group to remove any bias or tunnel vision from internal staff members. Think of it as an IT checkup. Not everyone will be happy about it, but hopefully, you can detect issues before they start to cause major problems. IT assessment includes such as pure health check techniques, interviews, third-party relationship analysis are all techniques that can be applied to give a picture of what is working or not.
  • IT Measurement System: Dysfunctions and inefficiencies are easier to uncover if there is a good measurement system is in place. Metrics are gathered on a regular basis, trends are shown on the dashboard and a management process is in place to analyze those trends. Dysfunction and inefficiencies do not develop overnight, they creep in slowly. With an excellent management dashboard and a sound management process of analyzing the same will not only fix the problem but also avoid them proactively. Picking the right measures will allow comparison against peer organizations which can help to set the initial quality/quantity level. If you measure, it is possible to look at trends, if the same cap-ex/op-ex budget produces less and less service then you would know something is wrong. The CIO also needs to be in touch with his/her customer/partner/ stakeholder base in a continuous fashion to head off the bigger issues and get a view of the organization and management team from the outside in look. 

  • RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted or Informed) analysis model: If the problem is with dysfunction or overlapping roles, then a brainstorming session which includes RACI analysis would definitely add value. There are quantifiable elements such as inefficiencies which can be brought to light by leveraging the right management system. For uncovering overlapping roles/ dysfunctions, the in-depth RACI Analysis should be done as part of the Performance objective setting exercise. RACI (list tasks and identify if they are Responsible, Accountable, Consulted or Informed) model is a great way to identify overlapping roles, have each staff member or group identify their duties, get a solid understanding of the group dynamic and where some re-org might help. 
Vision Statement: In case the problem is due to infighting, then a strong vision statement can frequently align differing priorities, and resolve issues. New IT leaders can start with the brainstorming & vision setting, this has the added advantage of being "everyone's solution," and hence will have more broad-based acceptability as IT moves forward into implementation. CIOs will find it extremely difficult to validate the different points of view, especially if he/she is new to the ecosystem. So he/she will have to go back to Vision-setting to align the entire organization to the Business imperatives of the organization.
Organizational culture: There is something to be said about the organizations "Culture." Prevention is better than cure! Organizational Culture and value systems pretty much decide the behavior of all associates.  If you clean up the culture, you'll clean up the dysfunction. Implement the governance and produce the measures, but also empower your staff, you will find that an empowered and flat organization will not only uncover problems that you can't measure, they will also fix them. Try a more decentralized and employee empowered culture. This is not easy to do in IT without changing the organization as a whole. It takes executive peers support and HR’s coordination. And, like anything, this takes a plan, top-level support, and time

Multiple evaluations approach: Evaluate organizational performance and effectiveness by taking a couple of approaches. That could be done via surveys, skip 1-2 even 3 level meetings, or external reviews.
1) Meeting: The easiest one to start is establishing skip level meetings - no start-up costs but have to be managed.
- communicated from the top to solicit participation, assure "do not kill the messenger" attitude, establish the goal (get more done, reduce stress, etc.)
- people can sign up to meet with executives; direct reports are excluded
2) Surveys: if carefully designed, could reveal a lot, but de-motivate people if no action is taken later.
3) The external study could be done but in order to be effective they have to a) have no bias (hidden up-sell agenda) and b) have the right people assigned to the job. If you could assure a) and b),  it is good even if they bring to the spotlight something that was known by some in the organization. 

Early signals for dysfunctional IT: The key watch-outs for signs of dysfunctional behavior are at times when a project runs into rough whether or not a crisis occurs. This is the time when people resort to their natural unconscious behaviors. If the organizational culture is strong and value systems (credo) are re-enforced through celebration, storytelling, communications, rewards, and recognition then these get embedded into the unconscious psyche of all associates. Annual Company-wide surveys on key aspects of Business Strategy understanding, leadership behavior, job satisfaction, etc. can provide rich inputs to reveal what the associates are thinking and what they perceive. This input must be shared transparently and acted upon very visibility.
Organization changes should be built into a strong management practice:
Annual Strategy Planning – Developing a common vision/strategy (via a three-year plan aligned to the business plan) for Technology, Process & People (organization design and resources) – keep in mind year two and three are more visionary (vs. exacting). Negativity (unhealthy infighting & dysfunction) seeps in when there is a lack of common & committed goal.

Priorities are clear, approved and bonused (sharing this plan) – Like systems fitting together, staff should know the big picture and know what their role is in it. Ensure people committed and incentivized to the plan/priorities or agree on an exit. It’s important to identify those who are dragging the bus (if for a good reason, acknowledge timely – if they continue to drag, it will ruin the team and organization). A really honest conversation can be good for all parties. 

Measurements are in place for projects and services. Create an open culture of curiosity that measurements are for improvement (not for performance management).

Effectively communicate - Perhaps ‘no one likes change if they weren’t part of the decision process.' Any time the strategy or new project comes along, an investment should be made in evaluating the organizational design;

Confidence and empathy in as for many people that ‘Life is about change and adapting’: As life experiences teach us that this is not always within our control but looking at it with positive attitude tends to create new opportunities and avoid negativity

 Targets and measurement. Mostly PEOPLE (good ones in a good team with the clarity of role and purpose) continually improving. 

Change is not for its own sake, a clear vision, a systematic thinking and effective communication, the logical processes and exemplified change leadership are all the key success factors to overcome the challenges and manage changes smoothly.

Read More about magic "I" in CIOs:

CIO as Chief Interpretation Officer
CIO as Chief Imagination Officer


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