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Constituent Experience 101: There is a reality called silos. How should we deal with it in the best interest of our constituents?

June 2, 2013 1 comment

We all see it all the time. It is time to put together the annual budget. Or, it is time to update our plans. Each department puts its own plan together and then defends it before the group. At a certain level that makes sense. The question any department leader needs to ask is will this approach serve our constituents best? Is it at odds with the overall constituent experience we are trying to build? To get an enterprise wide constituent investment plan, we may need to do a few things differently. If you have a Chief Constituent Officer, it is their role to make it happen.

The premise here is that constituents are being lost in the hand offs between departments. The constituent walks away thinking do they truly understand my needs? Are they there when I need them? Are they really my partner? If I am a donor and an advocate, how come it doesn’t feel like you know that and treat me differently?

The first thing the Chief Constituent Officer needs to do is make sure they are aligned with the CFO, CIO, CDO and CMO. Investing in a constituent experience plan will take the support of the CFO from the beginning. The CFO will probably welcome an approach that brings together resources for a common goal and eliminates duplicate spending.

If you are the Chief Constituent Officer, you also need to align with the CIO. In this day and age, as a digital nonprofit, nothing happens without the IT department. If you get a jump on aligning with the IT department and their PMO, you will save yourself a lot of time and rework. You will also gain an ally in gaining financial support when the senior team reviews your plans.

Who owns the constituent data in your nonprofit? In some nonprofits that isn’t clear but the CMO will probably be a big stakeholder, along with the Chief Development Officer. If is critical that they both have a seat at the table as you put your plans together. Do they own with your constituent targets, data and plans for improving the experience with you?

One unique role you play as the Chief Constituent Officer is the ability to aggregate intelligence to identify the most important investments. You are the only one who can breathe life into the annual constituent plan. It will take time to bring together the right people to agree on the most pressing constituent challenges and opportunities. Once identified, you can work with senior management to gain agreement to work on solving the issues. Here are a couple of things to look for:

  1. Building relationships with priority constituents. Some of these will be obvious like high level donors but others may not.
  2. Fixing issues that impede the overall constituent experience.  As the Chief Constituent Officer, you are probably the only one that knows what these are.
  3. Points of differentiation and the big bets your nonprofit should make.

Now you are ready to pull an investment budget together. The emphasis here is on investment. It is critical to be able to identify the return these investments will bring to your mission. Now that you have a more integrated view of constituent priorities, you can make your case better. Since you are taking an enterprise wide view, all of the items for investment may actually live in other department budgets. This will drive greater levels of collaboration with your colleagues. As Chief Constituent Officer, you will be providing a great service that is really lacking to your nonprofit. The budgeting process is always where the rubber hits the road. It will help you gain traction and will help you identify roadblocks. It will also help everyone set a few critical priorities since it is highly likely there is a whole lot of extra money sitting around the table.

This type of action on your part as Chief Constituent Officer will help solidify your role as constituent zealot. It will also help everyone see the importance of the overall constituent experience.

What if your nonprofit doesn’t have a Chief Constituent Officer? This is the opportunity for some department (and its leader) to seize the day. It could be the CMO or the CDO. No matter what, someone needs to seize the role.

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Will you shape the vision?

IT is like business engine, CIOs are accountable for critical part of business that is constantly changing and evolving. Contemporary CIOs should be capable of evolving leadership skills to not only match pace with the changes in technology and the pace at which organization can effectively manage these changes, but also proactively drive changes in business transformation.

Shape the Vision: CIO and his/her team can play a large role in shaping a vision of the firm as a place where passionate individuals want to connect with and learn from one another. CIO offices also have a significant responsibility to choose and deploy the IT that will help their firms realize the vision. Simply put, IT can no longer just be about numbers and algorithms; it has an opportunity to be a significant catalyst for passion and a tool for encouraging questing and connecting the innovation dots.

Ignite Passion: The range of technologies have emerged that can help foster a deeper sense of connection and purpose in employees, ignite latent worker passion and bring together disparate parts of the organization. But these new tools also necessitate a new way of thinking, a creative way to do things and a flexible way to work smartly.

Set Evolution: The emergence of the CIO coincided with the birth of the PC and end user computing. That role certainly matured as the Internet age unfolded. Now, it’s social, mobile, consumerization of IT, Big Data and a major shift in how IT services are delivered (cloud). These changes are inspiring spiritual conversations around the role of the CIO, these are all evolutionary and in some ways even predictable.

What is your new ecosystem?

The need for change is obvious. The CIO as change agent not only touches his/her own function, but also need make influence on entire organization and business ecosystem as well, it takes strategic planning, methodology and practice in orchestrating such transformation. This is a big deal. If the business isn’t strategic it will be impossible for technology to be strategic as well.

Define Roadmap: In fact, the required changes, at the most fundamental level, need be well documented. A clearly defined roadmap is available, and industry best practices are in place to serve as a framework upon which the solution can be implemented over time. The transformation to a more proactive service/solution delivery organization with repeatable management processes in place of the ‘crisis of the day’ leadership model, can be a reality, but only if the CIO is the proactive, visible and charismatic sponsor.

Optimize Process: Meanwhile, to compete, business unit leaders need IT to ensure the availability and reliability of their business process automation tools/technology, so their staff can function as efficiently as promised, back when they justified the tool purchase. In fact, many organizations have little insight into their cost structures and who is consuming the assets. They have no idea where they are spending their money on and often assume it is mainly being spent on items which are actually much lower on the list. Every IT finance group can capture costs but the challenge is to have visibility and traceability between costs and the assets consuming those costs. The leadership team needs IT to be the business process optimization expert for the company, to find creative sources for competitive advantages, to better compete.

Ask for Help: One of the first things a CIO must do in a transformation initiative of this magnitude is to ask the business for help. The effort will fail if the business units are unwilling to invest resources and accept a “period of pain” where service levels may be adversely impacted. CIO can envision themselves talking with business unit leaders, selling them on the challenges and the vision for the future. Will CIO be open to new perspective, willing to adapt the new skill set to the demands of evolving technology or adapt their role to the evolving business requirements for technology? Will CIO be learning agile to understand business ecosystem and connect innovation dot cross-functional, cross-industrial and cross-cultural border? It takes both attitude and aptitude.

Will you transform the culture?

Many IT departments are still reeling from the “slam it in and fix it on the fly” approach that was required by the rush to automate all core business processes (late 1990s & early 2000s). A reactive, crisis-driven and internally focused ‘systems management’ culture evolved as a result, such culture becomes barrier for IT to reach higher level maturity.

From “Heroic effort” to “Collaboration Effect”: IT department-wide culture is maintained by a ‘Heroic effort’ reward system, a value system that is proving to be nearly intractable. Along with the Hero mentality, expertise silo evolved a non-collaborative, finger-pointing culture that renders truly effective SLAs impossible to measure & enforce. A fundamental change in the heroic effort rewards culture is required to put an end to the reactive, crisis-driven and technology systems focused role for the IT department, and shift to business-driven, collaborative IT mentality because the business requirements for technology management have changed. The rapid push for offering ‘cloud-based’ services and the need to retool IT to centrally manage these, is certainly a perfect opportunity to rethink the role of IT and make a cogent case for a service-level driven rewards and recognition culture

The transformation journey must start with the CIO. However, very few CIOs are willing to step away from the existing IT management paradigm and hero-based rewards culture to adopt a new role as a culture change transformation sponsor. This has not been a required leadership skill-set for the CIO role to date. It is a dramatic change in skills, priorities and rewards tactics. Can veteran CIOs who came up the ranks accept this need for a dramatic change in IT culture? Will they have the required skill set to sponsor such a change? Do they have the charisma to achieve buy-in from the current IT staff. Or will it take a crisis? CIOs must drive the elimination of the heroic effort reward culture. This is the principal challenge for current “up through the ranks” CIOs. Recognizing the need for this fundamental change has not been easy for most veteran CIOs.

Be Change Agent to retool Organizational Culture: Culture is perhaps the most invisible, but powerful fabric surrounding organization, the toxic culture like water, which can sink the enterprise ship, IT is also at unique position to well align people, process and the latest technology to empower talent, enforce communication, enhance governance, and enable cross-functional collaboration, to retool organizational culture for achieving high business performance potential.

 

Will you be the Change Agent?

Change is the second most popular word in 21st century. Why change is so tough and what really keeps (C-suite) executives from embracing organizational transformation is FEAR: fear of letting go of heroic leadership, fear of losing control, fear of navigating through uncharted territory, fear of chaos.

But change is inevitable, due to the CHANGE nature of technology, CIOs shouldn’t get pushed for change, they are actually at better position to play such a role as change agent in leading organizations’ transformation.

Will you be the change agent?

When it comes to the cloud, there is a huge gap between the business and the CIO

January 26, 2013 Leave a comment

A recent survey on cloud adoption presents an interesting view of the perception gap between IT and business executives. Although the survey focuses on issues such as on-premise upgrades and availability of technical resources, the best stuff is buried in a single graphic.

Enterprise performance management vendor Host Analytics sponsored a survey (PDF download), by Dimensional Research, that describes certain drivers of cloud adoption.

According to the survey, the cloud alternative delivered better value–business: 80 percent; CIOs: 53 percent. Although the phrase “better value” is vague, most likely business people interpret this to mean “less expensive“. This makes sense because many business folks see cloud as a means to bypass IT and purchase computing at lower cost. On the other hand, the data indicates that CIOs recognize that software alone is only part of the overall cost equation for enterprise technology

The survey highlights several important points for CIOs to consider, including:

Business buyers don’t care about your IT agenda: As CIO, your technology focus includes a broad range of considerations that are of little direct interest to business executives. Most business folks don’t care about your infrastructure, staffing, and efficiency concerns. They want feature rich applications that meet their specific needs. And, they want those apps cheap.

Business buyers have a tactical view of technology procurement: Their concerns focus narrowly on solving specific problems, perhaps without a long-term or strategic view of technology. The clear implication: address their specific needs without adding your back office constraints heavily to the mix. Find a way to handle your own constraints without binding users into solutions that do not accomplish their goals.

Users need education on strategic cloud benefits: Based on the survey, we can conclude that users do not understand that cloud benefits go far beyond lower cost. Both IT departments and software vendors must do a better job educating users on the innovation and business process benefits of the cloud. And, dear CIO, I must delicately note that your staff may also need additional education in this area.

Crossing the Innovation Chasm. Does CIO stand for Chief Innovation Officer?

December 3, 2012 1 comment

Why does the Innovation Chasm exist? As a CIO, you have been charged with protecting your organization’s valuable assets, and with providing a reliable and stable infrastructure. As a result, you have become the “CI-No”:

  • “No, we can’t buy that application you saw in an airplane magazine.”
  • “No, we can’t have a new Web site built in two weeks.”
  • “No, we can’t do that because it will expose our customer data.”

You could be the CI-No because you were the only game in town: if the business wanted access to technology, they had to come through you. That’s not the case anymore. One of the byproducts of the perfect storm is that the business can now access technology directly from the Cloud without your involvement, and without your knowledge. It happens in companies of all sizes, in every industry, regardless of your IT or security stance. When business has access to that technology, it widens the chasm.

IT has to up its game, and smart CIOs are on a path to help the business use technology to innovate both what they do and how they do it.

Here is a great visual of how to align with the CEO.

CEO Hierarchy of Needs

via Crossing the Innovation Chasm.

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