CIO's Role in Change Management

Ann All

At the beginning of this year, I wrote a couple of posts containing words of wisdom from CIOs I interviewed in 2010. One statement I especially liked, from Vince Kellen, CIO of the University of Kentucky and a senior consultant at Cutter Consortium, concerned the CIO's responsibility to help overcome cultural and organizational barriers that hamper technology implementations.


He said:

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There are so many cultural dynamics within organizations that stand in the way of good use of technology. How do IT people help solve the problem of moving the impediments that stand between data and good decisions? Social elements and change management elements are critical in that. Computers have only been around a short while relative to humans. We still have a lot of work to do to understand how to knit organizations together through the use of technology. If that's not the IT person, then who is it?

I remembered Kellen's words while reading an Information Management post by Forrester Research analyst Connie Moore that made the point that organizational culture eats strategy for lunch. It's a subject near and dear to Moore's heart, because she and her colleague Claire Schooley recently completed a research report on business change management, titled "Effective Business Change Management Requires More Than A Wait-And-See Attitude," which will be published next month. The two also present "Cut Through The BS To Tackle Change Management For Customer-Centric BPM" at the upcoming Forrester IT Forum 2011.


Moore included some interesting snippets from her research, several of which also contain some smart advice:

  • A whopping 70 percent of process initiatives fail because of poor business change management.
  • Several methodologies can help, including John Kotter's research, ADKAR from Prosci, and the Four Disciplines from Franklin Covey.
  • There's no silver bullet to change management. To make change management stick, pick an approach and stick with it from start to finish. (Right, or you'll be throwing in yet another change mid-stream!)
  • It's a good idea to create a dedicated change management staff that draws from HR and other disciplines.
  • Business change management should be aligned with project management but remain separate, because the two have different goals and objectives.
  • The biggest gotchas in business change management are failure to communicate up and down the organization throughout the duration of the initiative and tackling too much change at once.


A reader named Pat C commented on Moore's post, agreeing with her advice to pick a change management approach and stick with it from start to finish. She (or he?) wrote:

I have worked a number of places where change management involved nothing but change. Not in processes but in the way change management was being implemented. Every month a different approach was introduced which caused total chaos. Employees felt powerless. Supervisors openly stated that everyone just needed to "wait this one out" till the next approach came along. ...

I pulled a couple of my own posts from the past year in which I shared some great change management tips.


As I wrote last summer, Prevoyance Group President Patrick Gray, author of "Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology," believes employees are more receptive to change if managers explain how change will benefit them individually, not just how it will benefit the overall corporation.


I also shared some ideas from Marcia Xenitelis, who bills herself as "The Change Communicator." She noted business leaders must be educated about the change so they can accurately convey the benefits to other employees. Xenitelis advised IT organizations to "put in place a simple format and support them in designing a brief presentation on the system to their teams." She said:

Like a sports team, one win and momentum and enthusiasm increases, but you need to make sure that they feel "safe" about taking this step and don't set them up to fail.

I added a twist of my own, suggesting this approach might work even better if a business leader and IT leader gave these presentations together. It more effectively conveys the idea of IT and business as members of the same team, working toward the same goals. And IT leaders could help field any questions business leaders aren't comfortable handling alone.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Dec 5, 2011 1:16 PM Change Management Change Management  says:

Processes just don't work well when the various functions are walled off from one another. If information has to struggle up through the chain of command in one department, make it over to another area, then dribble back down that silo to the people actually doing the work, the process is far too sluggish.

Change Management


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