IT culture change: Bring your emotions, CIOs, or go home

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( Editor's note: IT leaders, we hope you’ll find a valuable resource in “The Open Organization Guide to IT Culture Change.” This new downloadable book offers advice from 20+ IT practitioners, industry leaders, and technologists, on how open principles are reshaping IT organizations and how to create powerful cultural change. Its release coincides with the second anniversary of  “The Open Organization” by Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst. Here, Red Hat CIO Mike Kelly shares his thoughts on a must-have skill for CIOs leading change inside IT teams. )

The IT department is uniquely positioned to handle change. Good IT teams manage change. The best ones lead change. As the pace of change accelerates today – and at a time when technology is in many respects the asset of a company – organizations are demanding their IT departments demonstrate more leadership than ever before.

Today's highest-performing IT teams are leveraging open principles to lead their organizations through monumental technological, social, and economic changes. They're becoming more collaborative and more transparent – and more agile and accountable as a result. They're rethinking organizational boundaries that have constrained them for decades and forming new, productive relationships across the business. They're sharing resources with internal and external stakeholders as they seek to innovate in operationally excellent ways.

This shift to open principles and practices creates an unprecedented challenge for IT leaders. As their teams become more inclusive and collaborative, leaders must shift their strategies and tactics to harness the energy this new style of work generates. They need to perfect their methods for drawing multiple parties into dialog and ensuring everyone feels heard. And they need to hone their abilities to connect the work their teams are doing to their organization's values, aims, and goals – to make sure everyone in the department understands that they're part of something bigger than themselves (and their individual egos).

[ What are the signs of great vs. mediocre DevOps organizations? See our related article, DevOps Jobs: How to spot a great DevOps shop. ]

In short: Today's IT leaders need to be culturally competent as much as they are technically competent. That's why a guide like "The Open Organization Guide to IT Culture Change" is so important, and its chapters reinforce this point. As you read the book, I hope you'll recognize the powerful role you can play in guiding your organization to success. 

Change is intensely emotional. And because the IT department is always at the forefront of change, it's always involved in an organization's most emotional activities. Never forget that. Your effectiveness as a leader depends on it.

Download the "The Open Organization Guide to IT Culture Change"


As Chief Information Officer, Mike Kelly is responsible for leading the information technology organization at Red Hat Inc., the world’s leading provider of open source solutions. Since joining the organization in 2016, Kelly has focused on leading the IT team as they provide the tools and technologies that enable Red Hatters every day.