CIO as Catalyst, Not
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CIOs don't typically lead corporate transformation, but they're well positioned to help guide business process and improvement changes, says Michael Hammer, original champion of the business reengineering movement. Hammer labels the CIO the enterprise's c
CIOs usually have a pretty good view of the corporation and understand how processes work. Are CIOs better able to effect these types of business management changes compared with other executives?
HAMMER: In general—there are exceptions to everything—the CIO is not in a position to drive and lead this effort. It can only be done by a senior, business-line executive.
But the CIO is extremely well positioned to be what I call a catalyst, where the CIO—because IT sits outside the various functions—really has a bird's-eye perspective on the process issues in the enterprise.
In fact, a lot of these process issues often show up in systems terms. And the CIO can really be the catalyst to alert senior executive management to the problems with processes and to the opportunities that process management presents.
Once an organization gets going with processes, the CIO often becomes what I call the chief process officer. The chief process officer is not the boss of the process owners. The chief process officer is sort of the organization's chief of staff for process work, the center of expertise, the keeper of skills and methodology. And we see more and more organizations where the CIO takes on this additional role of chief process officer.
If you're the chief process officer—the change agent within the company that's bringing about these process management improvements—where do you start?
HAMMER: The first thing to do is to assess your readiness as an organization to proceed. Do you have the leadership? Do you have the right culture in the organization? And if not, you have to start working on those gaps.
What you need to do is identify your processes. If you don't know what they are, you're nowhere.
You also need to do a major assessment of those processes in terms of some key issues: What's the status of the design of that process? Do you have one? Is it a good one or not? What about the metrics? Do you have end-to-end metrics or not? Do you have a process owner or not? Do the people who work in the process understand it? Does your infrastructure, which includes your IT systems, support the process?
Based on that audit, you've identified what issues you need to work on. And so you say, "OK, I'm pretty good in process owner, not good in process metrics. Let me work on process metrics."