Alignment and Cultural Change

Posted on September 20, 2017 by

In the spirit of the next 180 days, let’s delve a little more into Team Alignment and Cultural change.  What is really meant here and what am I thinking.  I am almost certain many people are looking to the new CIO to make some changes and even “rip and replace” huge parts of the organization.  This can be unsettling for individuals, but may not be necessary. The pieces may be here, but we just haven’t arranged or enabled them in the most effective way.  There is a great piece in CIO Canada by Clint Boulton on How Adobe’s CIO redefined her IT org’s identity.  At this point I could just send you there with the word “ditto”, but let’s dig into a few of these things..

The first quote that struck me was: “With so many IT organizations mired in an identity crisis, the first step in Stoddard’s plan was creating an “identity for IT” that sought answers to key questions. Why does the department exist? What is its secret sauce? How should it treat employees?”  One of the first things I noticed here was that we had no visual identity for ITS and it seems like that translates into a larger issue around a lack of purpose.  What is our vision and what are the values we live by – I think we struggle to answer that, but I think it is there.  It is just not top of mind and I certainly don’t think the broader campus community knows what it is and that is critical. We just did an engagement survey with staff and  it shows people have a desire to answer some of the questions from above.   I have heard people talk about a desired state for ITS, but that not everyone had the same view, or they certainly were not delivering in that way.  I suspect there is simply a lack of awareness across the silos.  If we engage and tease it out, I could a see lot of this coming down to the creation of a service focused organization that has client service at it’s core.  I don’t think many people would disagree, I am just not sure we fully understand what that looks like, how to get there and if we even have a shared desire.

In terms of the client focus and service culture, a bold statement was made when Stoddard says “staff … needed to define the organization by imbuing IT with cloud-like characteristics,”.  As the author notes, this is “essentially delivering IT on-demand” and I think that is where we are going.  That being said, I also appreciate that this is going to be hard.   This is where the culture piece comes into play and I think an intentional change in culture is going to be needed.   That is going to take time and effort and will require an engaged organization.  In the article they talk about the companies new vision around  delevirables and how their internal workplace experience needs to change in order to deliver on this.   The whole notion of creating a personalized experience for the employee within the organization is something I find fascinating and really hadn’t considered… at least not to this extent, and in this context.  I certainly appreciated ‘clients’ in philosophy were different from clients in engineering, but I hadn’t fully translated that into my own team.

So for me this really just boils down to getting the whole organization together, defining why we exist, what we do and the rules of engagement around that. This is going to need to be intentionel and when it happens the pieces will start to align and culture will change.  We need to clearly communicate this out to the broader organization and we need to be prepared to live by it.