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CIO Change Playbook: Think About the People When Embarking on Transformation

In most organizations, the CIO bears responsibility for leading the company through digital transformation and innovation. The most effective CIOs prioritize the people side of change. They recognize that successful transformation requires more than new technology that will drive their organizations forward; it requires people in the organization to adopt it.

How do forward-thinking CIOs put their organization on the right path for successful transformation? They include a few choice plays in their CIO Change Playbook!

Play 1: Ensure Leadership Alignment

Beyond leading the IT function through the transformation, CIOs recognize the need to engage and align with their C-suite peers to drive enterprise buy-in through effective sponsorship. CIOs should foster cross-functional collaboration and alignment among leaders and stakeholders and enlist their help in applying change management across the enterprise.


Play 2: Deliberate Change Approach

Asking people to adopt new technology, processes, or policies requires a structured and deliberate change management approach, which leads to sustainable change. By employing change management best practices and assessing key metrics along the way, teams can measure and report on change management effectiveness and organizational readiness, as well as uncover areas that require additional focus.

Data and experience show that transformations are more successful when change management is included in advance of a project. Effective change starts with ensuring a strong organizational design structure to allow for greater effectiveness in developing, improving, and enforcing strategies and processes. Considering the people side also requires CIOs have a strong partnership with HR to ensure the organizational design structure will support current and future needs.

Play 3: Robust Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement is vital to a successful change management strategy. Change management activities should be thoughtfully planned throughout the project to help bring people along on the journey. Interview stakeholders to understand how different groups are impacted by the change and how they may respond. What are norms and preferences around learning and communication? This information informs the detailed change management plan and identifies who does what with each group, when and how change management activities should be delivered, and how input and feedback will be gathered and shared. Informed employees tend to be quicker to adopt change and are more aligned around project goals and benefits.

Play 4: Change Analytics

Forward-thinking CIOs also use data to measure current change efforts and to analyze and to understand how to influence successful change. These metrics and measurements help leaders understand the big picture, and spot trends, patterns, and exceptions. They provide insight into change management effectiveness and readiness and can identify readiness gaps that require additional focus.

Strategic-thinking CIOs know that the success of transformation relies on minimizing disruption and bringing people along to new ways of working. It’s about having a framework to help teams and departments adapt to being more data-driven, efficient, collaborative, and intentional on navigating change. CIOs that get it right are involving every department, engaging business unit leaders and stakeholders, and assessing adoption along the way.

Richard Vann, PMP, Prosci, is a Principal Consultant in Avaap’s Organizational Change Management practice. Richard has more than 25 years of training, project management, and change management experience, in a wide variety of industry segments, including energy and utilities, insurance, higher education, nonprofits, healthcare, retail, state and local government, software, and information technology. He holds both Prosci® Certified Change Practitioner and Prosci Train the Trainer certifications, as well as Avaap’s Certified Change Lead and PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) certifications. Richard is also certified in Workday HCM and People Experience.