On Thursday May 10th I attended the 13th annual Technology Executive Network (TEN) Conference in Rosemont, IL. In attendance at the conference were over 50 CIOs from the Chicagoland area. The focus of the conference centered on the evolving role of the CIO and the need to combine business savvy with the ability to successfully manage change. The theme of the conference was “Leading From the Edge of Change” and discussion focused around effective leadership strategies to effectively manage change. Managing these changes is the “new normal” in the world of every CIO. Discussion evolved around the opening address by Sandy Schwann, Managing Partner, Evolving Strategies where she reviewed several key strategies and elements of managing change. Examples cited were ERP implementations or consolidating multiple companies under one common IT infrastructure. There was also a subsequent panel discussion that included: Al Siders, CEO Network Data Systems; Tom Coleman, CIO Sloan Global Holdings; and Andy Konchan, CIO Pension Financial Services to expand on the previous topics of discussion.
Effectively Leading Change
The main reason cited for failure of key strategic initiatives was the lack of leadership from the top and not having a very visible and active sponsor. Also key is creating an environment of genuine enthusiasm and establishing an open communication infrastructure. It is not enough to “tell” your plans to the organization and subordinates but instead it is imperative to “sell the change” so all the employees internalize the change. Additionally, it is key that all participants understand “what is in it for me”.
Creating a culture for change and establishing an aura of trust is extremely important in moving any strategic initiative forward successfully. Without trust among all employees you will not get good conflict to both question positions and seek better alternatives.
The human factors of change cannot be underestimated as people totally govern the speed at which change is adopted. It is imperative to identify key change agents, eliminate negative influences and an effective leader of change models the types of behaviors they are asking others to model. It is key to lead by example.
Education is also key to effectively embracing change, which includes not only spending time to educate people on the actual change but also allowing them to effectively unlearn previous behaviors and get outside their comfort zones.
ADKAR Model for Managing Change
Considerable time was spent discussing the ADKAR Model for managing change. This model states that there are 5 distinct successive components required to ensure successful transformations:
- Awareness of the need to change
- Desire to participate and support the change
- Knowledge of how to change (and what the change looks like)
- Ability to implement the change on a day-to-day basis
- Reinforcement to keep the change in place
Most companies are guilty of jumping directly to the Knowledge Phase without establishing the awareness of the need and the desire to support the change. The lack of building this “buy-in” is one of the primary reasons for project underperformance or failure. There is a natural tendency to jump right to Knowledge (Education) without properly tilling the soil. The result is often times lackluster results.
Today’s dynamic business environment is not only requiring present day CIOs to combine business savvy with technological expertise but also possess the managerial prowess to lead and manage their organizations through an ever-changing business climate. This skill set will directly impact the eventual success of the CIO and their respective organizations. In an ever-dynamic world and business environment this will only increase in the future.