And now, a dumb CIO story:
A division of a multi-billion-dollar enterprise embarked on a business redesign. Because the redesign was expected to have technical repercussions, an IS analyst was part of the team.
Among its findings, the team recommended replacing a core legacy system, so the head of internal consulting called the CIO to ask if he was comfortable with the team’s findings.
The CIO hadn’t seen the team’s recommendations, but when the head of internal consulting explained them he responded that he could not support them, explaining that his analyst really didn’t understand the system, the environment, or the situation. Further, he instructed the head of internal consulting to keep him informed of the positions his analysts took in all future projects, to prevent a recurrence of the problem.
Nice solution, don’t you think?
We’re continuing our series of columns on managing change. We’ll take a break after this one, which explores the fascinating issue of restoring IS’s reputation as a sponsor of change from its current status as grumpy change resistor.
Restoring? Yes. Back when IS was EDP (electronic data processing) and consisted of a lot of programmers and computer operators with a couple of managers to keep enough coffee, coke and pizza in stock, we wrote all the legacy systems we now can’t figure out how to replace, transforming our companies from top to bottom as we did so.
Now we have business people in charge and, obsessed with tangible returns on investment and avoidance of risk, we’re paralyzed.
Since every business change from this moment forward will require the active support of IS, we need to be better than this. How can you change your own organization from a sullen group of change resistors to an energized team of enthusiastic supporters?
Step one: Look in a mirror. Do you like the challenge of doing things differently, or are you obsessed about what will break in the process? Do you wake up with ideas on how to improve the business, or do you wake up grousing about end-users who install their own software? Do you complain that NT just isn’t as stable as the mainframe, or do you explain to your system administrators that since some data centers manage to create highly reliable server environments, you’re going to do so also?
Is your habit to say yes or to say no?
Here’s how to turn your organization into a supporter of change: In your next all-hands meeting explain that from this point forward, nobody will ever turn down a request from the business. Ever.
No matter what the request, the answer will be, “We can do that. If you’ll sign up to the cost, we’ll figure out how to make it happen.”
Need to replace a core legacy system? We can do that. It will be expensive because conversions are never cheap, but if you’ll sign up to the cost, we can do it.
Want to integrate multiple legacy systems into an integrated call center? We can do that. We’ll have to engage an outside development partner because we don’t have a lot of the expertise we’ll need, and right now our resources are stretched pretty thin, but that’s okay. There are lots of good systems integrators out there and we’ll find one to work with us to get your job done. If you’ll sign up to the cost, we can do it.
Need a Macintosh instead of an NT workstation? We’ll have to install a Mac gateway onto one of our servers, but if you’ll sign up to the cost, we can do it. Will the Mac user want help desk support? Since we don’t have Mac expertise in-house, we’ll find you outside support … if you’ll sign up to the cost, of course.
How do you embrace change instead of resisting it? Make change part of every employee’s job description, that’s how. If their job is figuring out what it will take to make change happen, they will.