The CIO as change leader Reprinted from CIO Magazine (Australia) May 2001
By Steve Amesbury
Room for White Ants Management must consider all arguments when embarking on
a new project.
However, once the decision has been made, it is crucial that executives
become zealots for the cause. Detractors
– particularly at executive level can be expensive, if not disastrous. Unfortunately you can usually depend on at least one voice of opposition
in any project. A CIO seldom has
the seniority to rectify this situation, so must work closely with the CEO
to build a guiding coalition or steering committee to create the supporting
culture. While criticism and
feedback is healthy, opposition to agreed project objectives is not. The CEO
must send out a clear message that such opposition will not be
tolerated. If the undertaking is business critical, offenders may have to be
taken out of the picture.
organisations there is a tendency towards complacency at the beginning of any
change initiative. This needs to be replaced with a sense of urgency from day
one, and that is no easy task. There
are various ways of dealing with complacency. The greater the inertia in the
organisation, the more drastic the solution may become.
John P. Kotter in his book ‘Leading Change’ suggests that it may even
be necessary to create a business crisis to bring the status to red alert.
Not something I have tried personally, although I have been sorely
tempted at times.
communication front, the CIO can be instrumental in ensuring that the project
has a ‘vision’ that can be clearly and concisely communicated. A statement
is needed that does not waffle on, but answers the question ‘Why are we really
spending all of this time, effort and money on this project’?
Something that staff, and even your clients can sign up to.
The CIO could facilitate workshops with other executives to develop a
statement that can be expressed in a few minutes.
needs to encourage feedback using as many sources as possible, and ensure that
this gets back to the Sponsor, the CIO, executive management and the CEO. This
is often raised as one of the key arguments for the CIO to be part of the
executive and/or board – to make sure there is a free flow of relevant
information to and from the highest levels of management, and that the message
is not being diluted or misunderstood.
that is often overlooked is celebrating success.
If the project is expected to take several years, try to incorporate some
short-term wins. People won’t
wait three years to see signs of progress. They will be fatigued, and appreciate
some evidence of progress. Short-term wins address this need, and provide an
opportunity to celebrate in a way that recognizes and rewards the efforts being
made by staff. If the past few
years are any guide, you may be asking some of the same people to step up to the
plate again for another change initiative in the near future, and you’ll need
them on side.