Five Principles for Transformation

By Tanya Arthur, former SVP Business Relationship and Portfolio Management at Catholic Health

Tanya Arthur, former SVP Business Relationship and Portfolio Management at Catholic Health

For a number of years, we in the IT industry have been discussing the promise of IT. We have witnessed IT transform organizations products and services seemingly overnight. We have also witnessed it disrupt entire industries. Increasingly more and more projects are being labeled as transformative just as a matter of course, which begs the question; “what does it really means to transform?”.Sure Transformation means change, but change alone does not result in transformation. Throughout my career, I have been part of many “transformation” initiatives business model transformations; infrastructure transformation; operational/ financial transformation and others. Interesting enough all of these transformations have common themes that have resulted in both successes and failures.

“CIO’s must be both purposeful and relentless in the pursuit of innovation and breakthrough thinking at all levels.”

So what is transformation and how do we leverage our roles as IT leaders to bring it about in our own organization. As IT leaders we have worked alongside other business leaders to chase the potential that is inherent in every IT implementation. In doing so, the conversation has shifted from delivery, to service and now to value. Transformation is both all of these and none of these. Sure we must deliver products, services and achieve value, but to truly transformthe following five foundational principles must be present.

A crystal clear vision

At every turn, authors and business experts are talking about the criticality of having a vision, yet few are able to accomplish creating one beyond a carefully worded statement on the “about us” page of an organizations web site. Still I will tell you, having a clear vision for where you want to go and why is a key component to transformation. The vision must be simple, vivid, and articulated in a way that everyone not only hears, but also sees and feels it.

Let go and manage “the in-between”

Leading a transformation is much like the time after a trapeze artist lets go of the bars and hangs in midair, ready to catch the bar on the other side: it is a time of danger, expectation, uncertainty, and excitement. Many organizations fall short right at the first step letting go. Sometimes this means letting go of “how we have always done it” or a favorite functionality or technology. The inability to let go or otherwise effectively manage the “in-between” often carries through the entire transformational effort, resulting in an inability to achieve the vision.

Embrace Teaming Partners

What is often missing is the understanding and recognition that transformation

Involve steam work and two-way relationships built on trust, respect, compromising and accountability at all levels in the organization. It means a willingness to pivot to achieve the goal. It is only through these relationships that we have the potential to achieve the extraordinary.

Engage hearts and minds

Individuals have to “see” and “feel” the message in order for it to have the desired impact.  Tapping into the aspirations, passions and the things that we care most deeply about releases an inner power that fuels the kind of breakthroughs required to propelan organization to success. These create a flywheel effect, each feeding off and amplifying the momentum of the other.

Innovate and breakthrough

We have immeasurable opportunity to leverage an ever growing and changing technology base to innovate in ways we could not even imagine. The other day while getting my coffee, I noticed a product that would allow me to control the temperature of my coffee cup with my smartphone. Diagnosis and treatment in healthcare will be forever changed as digital cameras inside of pills observe and report back on what is happening at a cellular level within the human body and we have only begun to scratch the surface of possibilities with the amount of data that society has amassed in clouds all over the world. Yes, we are in a digital revolution! Although the potential to transform any organization is right at your fingertips, without the other four principles, true transformation will be elusive. CIO’s must be both purposeful and relentless in the pursuit of innovation and breakthrough thinking at all levels. 

As CIO Leaders, we have the unique opportunity to see the organization from a perspective that most leaders cannot. This places us in the envious position to really be able to drive true Transformation in an organization, but only if we are able to recognize and embrace it.  

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