- Published: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 08:00
By Mark Tonnesen
Organizational change – including IT organizational change – is not a "project." It's not something with a nice, neat start date and end date, with deliverables and measurable outcomes. For an organization to survive over time, organizational change must be a continual initiative or charter that is always top of mind for members of the executive team, including the CIO.
Most Large Organizations Don't Survive Major Transformations
As companies grow they find it increasingly difficult to make the necessary changes to respond to the changing world and marketplace. As I write this, I can only think of two large technology corporations that have gone through significant transformations and survived. There's IBM, which transformed itself from a products company into a services company and is still around today making money, and Apple, which morphed from being a personal computer company to being anything but just a personal computer company now.
It's much easier to think of the companies that have struggled with organizational change. There's Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) and Sperry Rand, both getting eaten up by others that are faster and more nimble. And there are hundreds of other examples. HP today is certainly having a very hard time with change. Oracle, an old-world software company, is losing market share to Workday, Salesforce.com and open source solutions. Intel has lost the mobile chip business to Qualcomm and others. And the list goes on.
IT Organizational Change Should Always be on Your Mind
If you're a CIO, you need to accept the idea that IT transformation is a continual process and evolution, and something that you need to be thinking about and executing to daily. Some of the key things you need to do to facilitate this successful, continuous IT organizational change include:
- Create a fabric of connectivity with the business – The IT organization must be outwardly facing and business-oriented. IT cannot exist in its own private silo!
- Hire (non-engineering) staff from the business – When hiring business analysts and project managers I do not necessarily look for people with a technical, computer science background. I want to hire people with finance, marketing, manufacturing and industry backgrounds. They tend to be well-rounded and adaptable, able to grow and change to meet the challenges of a given period of time within the organization.
- Focus on the soft skills of listening and communication – Be sure that your team is listening to the market and your internal customers, that you're tuning in to new innovations, ideas and technologies. For example, your project managers and business analysts need to be very inclusive in their conversations, planning, preparation and execution. Gone are the days of business units submitting their requirements to the mysterious IT "black box" and then waiting for the work to come out at the other end. Communication, collaboration and listening are vital.
- Have strong leadership – Change is difficult, and people naturally resist it. Successful transformation requires strong leadership that can move the entire organization and all of its people to achieve a different kind of state, whether that's a technology state, an organizational re-design, a new set of capabilities or whatever.
In the end, it's the organization and the people that make transformation real and possible. One of the mistakes that many executives make is that when hiring they only think about the capabilities and skill sets needed to meet immediate requirements. Then when the company makes changes, the IT organization is stuck in the old world without the ability to transform to meet the new needs. Hire for the future, not the past.
About Mark Tonnesen
As an experienced business and technology leader, Mark has proven that he can take on large-scale business and technology transformation challenges. Most recently, his success in driving business by scaling consumer-facing 24x7 services has made his expertise strategically important to two different businesses.
Mark's 25+ years of experience developing and implementing business and IT strategies has focused on driven top-line growth while optimizing both operational expenditure and gross margins. Mark is known for delivering quality results, even under difficult market conditions.
About CIO Professional Services
CIO Professional Services LLC is a top-rated IT (Information Technology) consulting firm, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, specializing in strategic IT consulting and business / IT alignment. Companies come to us seeking assistance with their information technology strategy as well as to source interim CIO / CTO employees or fractional CIO / CTOs.