Change Management Readiness Checklist for CIOs

Today, CIOs play an important role in leading organizational change, but before beginning any change initiative, it is important to assess change management readiness. 

In this post, we’ll learn why CIOs are being called upon to lead so many change projects, including everything from digital transformation initiatives to culture change.

After that, we’ll look at a set of questions that can help CIOs prepare themselves and their organizations for transformative change.

CIOs, Are You Ready for Change?

Change management is one of the top challenges faced by today’s Chief Information Officers (CIOs)

Here are a few reasons why:

The future will be driven by technology. Technology-driven organizations have been reshaping the industry, but this trend is only beginning. We’re going to see the rise of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and robotics – all of which will continue to transform the business landscape.

The pace of digital change is accelerating. The rate of digital innovation and digital change is accelerating, in part due to natural processes and in part due to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The only way to stay current and competitive is to develop operating models that are technology-driven, agile, and adaptable. 

The role of the CIO is changing. While CIOs have traditionally been responsible for IT operations and service delivery, the digital trends covered above are changing all that. Today’s CIOs are expected to be more than just infrastructure experts, they are being asked to take a more strategic role in the organization. 

In short: digital transformation is turning the operational CIO into a transformational CIO

While this transition certainly involves new responsibilities and challenges, it also brings new opportunities for growth and leadership – if, of course, CIOs are willing to embrace change. 

Next, we’ll look at a checklist of items that can help CIOs stay ready for this new future.

A Change Management Readiness Checklist for CIOs

To prepare for tomorrow’s uncertain landscape, CIOs should be assessing both their organizations and themselves.

Here are a few questions to ask when evaluating their readiness for change:

Are you proactively embracing new responsibilities? In order to be successful in the digitally-driven organization, CIOs need to be willing to take on new responsibilities. Since, as mentioned, the role of the CIO is evolving, it is important for CIOs to proactively embrace that new role and the responsibilities that come with it.

Are you expanding your skill set to include leadership, managerial, and business skills? To get the most out of their new role, CIOs should learn skills that include business skills, leadership skills, management skills, and more. 

Are you educating other C-suite executives on the value of digital technology? CIOs are in a unique position to educate C-suite executives about the bottom-line value of digital technology. They should make sure that other executives understand the importance of digital technology in terms of the customer experience, the employee experience, the business impact, and more.

Are you helping to design and lead digital transformation initiatives? Today’s CIOs are being asked to lead digital transformation initiatives to help their organizations become more digitally mature, more innovative, and ultimately more successful in the post-COVID next normal.

Is digital built into the DNA of your company culture? A key step in creating a digital-first culture is to help everybody to understand that digital is the future. By understanding why digital is important, CIOs will be able to bring their people along with them on the journey – and build a workforce that is more digitally savvy, agile, and open to change.

Are you keeping up with and investing in emerging technology?  Every single company, large or small, needs to be “digital by default.” If a company doesn’t invest aggressively in new technology, it’s going to be hard to compete against those that do. 

Have you built a digital adoption function into the business? A digital adoption function focuses on software onboarding, training, and support, not only for employees, but also for customers. The more that digital software plays a part in an organization, the more important it is to simplify functions such as software onboarding, employee training, and technical support.

Are silos being broken down between IT and other business units? Today’s businesses are often fragmented and overly complex, in part due to technology-driven change. For this reason, it’s important to break down the barriers between IT and the other business units. When these two sides of the business are brought together, the organization will become more agile, nimble, and effective.

Do you have an aggressive talent acquisition and management program? Talent shortage has become a big problem today. According to research firms such as PwC, for instance, 74% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of key skills. The best way to stay competitive in the market is to invest in your team, and to do that you have to be able to offer your employees excellent training and development.

Does your organization have an innovation hub? If you’re not innovating, then you’re just reacting. To stay ahead of your competitors, you need to dedicate teams and resources to digital innovation. That means investing in things like AI, chatbots, data analytics, and technology that can make your business more efficient.

Do you know how to lead and manage organizational change?  Change management is the process of preparing for, planning, and leading business changes. Since, as we have seen, CIOs are now leading so many change efforts, it is important to study change management best practices, strategies, and methodologies.

Questions such as those listed above are naturally focused mostly on digital technology and the CIO position. 

Answering those questions can definitely help CIOs prepare themselves and their companies for the digital-first next normal

However, it is equally important to gauge organizational change readiness – for more questions and points to cover, check out our guide on assessing organizational change readiness.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.