Thursday, December 7, 2017

CIOs as “Change Agents” How to Walk the Talk Effortlessly?

Change in and of itself is never the reason. Change is an ongoing business capability.

Forward-thinking companies across the industries reinvent IT as the change organization. However, the best technology can’t ensure victory. Do CIOs have the required mindset and skillset to drive change? Do they have the charisma to get buy-in either from the business or from current IT staff? Can they “walk the talk,” to lead change effortlessly?

Achieve the business buy-in: Change is a dance between the top management and the affected parts of the organization. One of the first things a CIO must do in a transformation initiative of this magnitude is to ask the business for help. Running a highly responsive IT organization needs to get support via front desks to boardrooms. CIOs should be able to talk with business unit leaders, selling them on the challenges and the vision for the future. Change Management has to maintain and fix any imbalance by involving the executives across functions and take a structural approach, to make sure all of the management is on board and educated well on the change objectives and how to carry them out effectively. The change effort will fail if the business units are unwilling to invest resources and accept a "period of pain" where service levels may be adversely impacted. Many CIOs graduate from IT management where their job was to maintain. The transition from a maintenance mindset to a changing mindset is a stretch for some IT leaders, but it's crucial to reinvent the tarnished IT reputation in order to get digital ready. CIOs need to be open to a new perspective, willing to adapt to new skillsets to the demands of evolving technologies or adapt their role to the evolving business requirements for technologies. Change Management and strategy management go hand-in-hand. The IT leader needs to focus with his or her peers by putting together a solid IT Management Framework that matches the needs of the business, have a supportive management team, embed change mechanism into IT management processes, and let his/her management team execute.

Delight customers from outside-in: Change is not for its own sake, it is IT responsibility to identify opportunities for business transformation wherever analysis and assessment indicate the potential benefits of transformation efforts, to satisfy customers, and to catalyze business transformation. Digital is the age of customers, delighting customer is the other dimension to speed up IT transformation from inside-out to outside-in. Technology is being leveraged every day to enhance customer experiences, this will provide a competitive advantage for the business, keep their loyal customers, and expand their customer base. IT needs to champion intuitive and easy to use customer tailored solutions to achieve specified goals and optimize the customer experience in a continuous delivery way. The IT organization is in the right position to orchestrate business changeability (people change, process change and technology change), to have a good understanding from a strategic perspective of the organization (structure, processes, locations, drivers, objectives, goals, applications, data, technologies.), in order to build a people-centric organization for either delighting customers or engaging employees.

Make change deliverables continually: There are radical changes and incremental changes. Big change requires participants to understand the "why" and for leaders to clearly communicate the goals, expectations and success criteria and to hold managers accountable. Change requires tools, training, and practices in order for the participants to feel comfortable that the service level they provide will continue or improve with the same or reduced effort. There are significant change deliverables that must be tied to all change plans. The changes delivered could be incremental via training, transitional via improving a process, or transformational if it is fundamentally shifting the entire business model of an organization. You must show change 'progress' as you go along so the business can justify the IT investment. Your deliverables are actually phases of activities, which act to keep your attention in the right places. These change activities will progressively prepare people for moving to a new way of working. A big challenge is for the managers to change their own behaviors to allow their teams to do the change that is needed.

Change in and of itself is never the reason. Change is an ongoing business capability. Many organizations are at the strategic inflection point of the digital transformation, it is the broader and longer journey with many leaps and jumps, bumps and curves, perils and pitfalls on the way. Change Management needs to be a mechanism embedded in a multitude of IT management. And CIOs have to become the change agents to walk the talk effortlessly.


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