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Drive change to get onto the board, IT leaders told

Will Hadfield

Most CIOs fail to drive change in their businesses, Tania Howarth, CIO of Coca-Cola Europe, told the IT Directors’ Forum on board the cruise ship Oriana last week.

Howarth, who has spent 21 years in IT working for both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, warned that IT directors could not expect to be on the boards of their companies unless they oversaw projects that transformed business profits.

Creating opportunity for growth is getting more difficult, she said. Most IT directors have been through an ERP or CRM implementation, technology-led change programme, or outsourcing.

“This means we need to dig really deeply for leverage to help the business grow,” said Howarth.

Seven steps to becoming a strategic change leader

Tania Howarth, CIO of Coca-Cola Europe outlined seven steps to becoming a strategic change leader at the IT Directors Forum:

Find the right opportunities
Become a business strategist – ask what macro skills and capabilities the organisation needs to be successful. Few functional heads are as well placed as IT directors to have an overview of the organisation.

Operate effectively in the organisation
Create hybrid teams. Pay attention to stakeholder management. Integrate IT into the plans of other functions.

Connect the dots
You need to know the business instinctively and functionally. Create a network of experts in the organisation.

Deliver change
Articulate an overall destination. Have a simple shared vision and explain what will be different. Create a value chain of delivery – nothing that lasts longer than six months, so if funding dries up you can stop in a controlled way.
Learn to improve
CEOs want an end point, but there isn’t one. Shift gears from transformational change to continuous improvement.

Take the team with you
IT people often measure IT in technical components, such as availability/downtime, but it has to be business focused.

Measure the results
Measure until it hurts and measure where it hurts: business key performance indicators.

 


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