The Four Pillars: The Secret to IT Transformation

By Charles Araujo

“Do you want to know a secret?” 

The “secret game” is a favorite of almost all young children. It is exciting and exhilarating to have a bit of secret knowledge that others do not. So they slyly ask this question, reveling in their secret information while inwardly dying to share it with their would-be co-conspirator.

“Tell me the secret,” you plead. In a barely audible whisper, they confess, “I love ice cream!”

These childhood secrets are not-so-secret at all. In fact, they are quite often just simple truths. I mean, after all, who doesn’t love ice cream?

Things don’t change that much as we get older. We love the idea of secrets. We love to believe there is some secret combination of things that make all things right. We want to believe that if we could only discover the secret, then all of our problems would be solved.

But as it is in our childhood, the best secrets are merely simple truths. And this is also true when you are seeking to transform your team into a next-generation IT organization. There is no real secret at all. But there are four simple truths. We call them “The Four Pillars of Transformation” and they are the key to driving significant and meaningful change in your IT organization.

Introducing the Four Pillars

Changing organizations is hard work. That’s why our second Catalyst Experience event focuses on the Four Pillars of Transformation. Our aim in this two-day intensive event is to help participants understand two things. First, we want them to understand that change does not just happen. It takes work. And a lot of it. People have to deliberately and consistently work to create organizational change. Second, we want them to understand that to drive meaningful organizational change within IT organizations, they need to operate across a number of different dimensions. That’s where the Four Pillars come in to play.

Through our years of working with organizations on large-scale IT transformation programs we have come to understand that changing IT organizations is a complex business. There are all of the normal organizational-change issues. But there are also some unique pieces of organizational baggage that IT teams must deal with in order to effectively move forward. The Four Pillars force IT leaders to address this baggage. So if you want to transform your team into a next-generation IT organization, you must begin by helping them understand how to address the Four Pillars:

  • Leadership
  • Bridging silos and building high-performance teams
  • The customer equation
  • Catalyzing change

The First Pillar: Leadership

The first rule of organizational transformation is that there’s no such thing. It’s a myth.

There is only personal transformation multiplied across an organization. Real change will not come from the top down. It will not radiate up from the bottom as some type of grassroots movement. It will occur only when every member of your entire organization sees themselves as an IT leader. They must see themselves as personally accountable for making the change happen. They must create a personal vision for the future that fits into a shared vision for the entire organization. And they must be willing to step up and to step out.

If you want to create a next-generation IT organization, you must start with leadership. If you are a member of the executive team, you play a significant role here. You must be willing to empower others and then step back. Leadership does not develop in a vacuum. If you make all of the decisions or second-guess others’ decisions, you will create a vacuum and will fail to develop leaders throughout the organization. Instead, you must challenge others and trust them. Challenge your team to rise up to the leadership mandate. Then trust the decisions they make. And if you are not part of the executive team, you need to be prepared to see yourself as an IT leader and act accordingly. Don’t wait for a mandate. Instead, be the leader that you are meant to be.

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