Friday, February 17, 2006

Change Management

I recently took up a new assignment with a global major and market leader in the segment in which they operate. A fairly efficiently run operation with a legacy ERP that has served well for a decade. The ERP today does not resemble the original having gone through a number of customizations to adapt to the ever changing business and competitive environment. Quite a few have been imposed by regulatory changes which are a necessity to do business in the country. Many satellite systems have been developed using multiple technologies over the decade to overcome some of the inflexibilities of the system. 50% of the IT staff is devoted to supporting this application and continuous development in some cases assisted by external service providers.

The global parent moved to a newer ERP system a couple of years back and over a period of time have transitioned the many country operations into a consolidated instance. This enterprise has resisted moving onto the global system over the last year or so citing many a reasons, some rational and a few which stretch the imagination. Everyone however realizes that its a matter of time before the transition will have to be done, but are trying to prolong this as much as they can. The country management team is frustrated attempting to balance expectations between the global parent and the local business heads. One of my defined objectives is to align to the global system and retire the current ERP.

A quick survey of the senior management team members reveals that they do not see any benefit in moving to the new system since the current one has served well for many years and is adapted to their modus operandi. The new ERP will enforce global policies and probably also take away the flexibility that is currently exercised by the local management in how they run the business.

It appears to be a scenario wherein the basic principles of change management will have to be reinforced to ensure some momentum and progress. The questions that we are beginning to ask are:

1) What will change when we move to the new system ?
2) What will become possible that we cannot do today ?
3) What will NOT be possible once we transition to the new system ?

To bring about change, you have to believe in the change with passion to create the same within. Mandates can create inefficient transitions but will not change mindsets and people. Successful change is always brought about by people who believe in the new world. The WIIFM question needs to be answered everytime. If your future appears brighter than today, it's due to the promise of tomorrow. If it was darker, you would resist the movement or attempt to go out and create the vehicle that will drive the darkness away.

WIIFM : What's In It For Me !!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Digital Divide

I had a very interesting experience a few weeks back in a CIO conference organized by one of the leading IT publishing house which had a congregation of about 100 CIOs and 15 CXO (business and head of enterprise). The theme of the conference revolved around the challenges faced by the CXO and the CXO (IT) in leading through technology driven innovation. The experience was interesting as my Sales & Marketing Head was invited as a subject matter expert and held 2 sessions that were well attended.

Since this was a first for him to be called to speak in an IT conference, he was spellbound by many a facets of a typical CIO who debated, discussed, challenged and learned through aggressive interaction within the group as well as the invited CXOs. The breadth of technology solutions on display by the sponsoring IT companies gave him a perspective of cutting edge possibilities and application to business.

All our interactions in the Management Team meetings and recommendations that were endlessly debated and a few that never got off the ground created a great flashback. To him it was a revelation of sorts to see industry peers seek advice on challenges and possibilities within their organizations.

What is the point I am trying to put across ? Well, for our CXOs to get a real perspective of the talent that they possess and for them to respect you as a CIO and your views, it is important for them to be exposed to your peers and the industry at large. IT conferences offer one such opportunity that you should effectively use to your advantage. You don't want them to realize your true potential after you have decided to seek greener pastures either out of frustration or because its kind of end of the road where you currently are.

Have you attempted to get your CXOs to participate in any IT event ? Give it an earnest attempt and once you succeed, success will follow internally too. Go ahead, what are you waiting for !!