Digital transformation: 6 lessons for CIOs

To lead a successful digital transformation, CIOs must embrace the role of change agent. Consider this expert advice to inspire and motivate your team throughout times of change
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Anyone who’s ever been through a transformation knows that change is hard. And IT is a driving force in organizational change. According to Notion Consulting’s new Change Report, at least 50 percent of changes in the workplace are attributed to technology changes.

As change agents, CIOs help their organizations by inspiring, influencing, and truly leading others. With most individual contributors in an organization claiming to be openly skeptical or completely disengaged, CIOs have their work cut out for them.

Here are six proven fundamentals that will empower you, as an IT leader, to make an impact as you take on the role of change agent:

1. Be clear

Articulate what you are moving from and what you are moving toward in language that is easy to understand and inspiring. Leave no doubt about what’s changing, why it’s important, and what the future will look like. The vision may be clear in your mind, but others must also be able to articulate it to share it.

[ Also read Digital transformation: Don’t be a follower. ]

2. Make progress visible

What gets measured gets done. Develop a comprehensive measurement strategy that includes a readiness assessment, a review of business outcomes, and metrics that track the transformation.

A visible dashboard of key transformation metrics that everyone understands is critical to keeping efforts targeted and efficient, and drives accountability. Use a transformation “hub” as a central repository for measurement, tools, and resources.

3. Allocate the right resources

Change doesn’t happen by itself – and it’s not a part-time job. If adapting to the change is only a small fraction of someone’s role, work gets splintered, and other priorities will take over. Don’t underestimate the amount of work that transformation will require if you want to shift mindsets and behaviors and allocate the necessary resources to accomplish it.

4. Enable your leaders

One person cannot singlehandedly lead an IT transformation. True transformation requires the buy-in and commitment of all of your organization’s IT leaders. Equip them to lead by ensuring they can articulate the future state and how they fit into it, and that they can translate this into action for their teams. Providing tools and resources to ease this process will help make the change tangible and clear while accelerating your transformation efforts. Keep in mind that this type of work may fall outside the natural comfort zone of many IT leaders, and it is critical to help them feel prepared.

5. Implement a change management strategy

No IT transformation can succeed without considering the stakeholders’ perspective. Understanding change from the lens of those impacted will help frame strategies to shift mindsets and behaviors and drive adoption of the transformation from deep within the organization.

6. Map new ways of working

Every transformation brings new ways of working. These changes stem from updates in processes and technology, but ultimately, they are about people: What do I need to do differently? What are the changes to handoffs, roles, governance, and rules? How does this impact my day-to-day job?

Answering these questions will give employees the knowledge and security to adopt the transformation and take ownership of the pieces they need to drive.

[ New research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services identifies four focus areas for CIOs as they seek more flexibility, resilience, and momentum for digital transformation. Download the report now. ]

Diana Vienne is co-founder and senior partner of Notion Consulting, a leadership and transformation consultancy that helps organizations harness the full power of their people to drive change, advance their mission, and unleash their competitive edge.