CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 59

hen I joined Old Mutual last year, after
many years in the automotive and
information technology industries, I
found out that the financial services
industry is quite set in its ways. But
when I started looking at what the
challenges were, they were very similar in principle to what
we were trying to sort out at General Motors years ago.
Good management practices are the same in all industries.
One that has worked for me on many occasions is what I
call “management by driving a stake in the ground.” The
stake can be an audacious goal, an inspiring vision or an
overarching principle – something that gets everybody to
work together in a very focused and determined way.
Setting an Audacious Goal
One way to drive a stake in the ground is to declare a
highly ambitious completion date for a project. By doing
that you shift people’s mind-set, requiring them to tell you
what it will take to deliver their work on time rather than
why they cannot do it.
When I took over as CIO at one of the companies I
worked for previously, I found out that they were five
years late and a hundred million pounds over budget with
their European-wide SAP implementation. I arrived in
May and had until the following March to complete the
project. My team and I turned the project around and
delivered it the following January, sticking to our budget
commitment.
People in that business were used to worrying about risk,
looking at all the things that could go wrong and then
coming up with reasons for why the date for completion
should be moved. We needed to turn around the culture.
To make that happen, I created a significant emotional
event by announcing, in a very visible way, a go-live date.
I realized that there was only one opportunity to go live –
between Christmas and New Year’s. That was the only
way we were going to have enough time to do all the data
migration and everything else we needed to do. So I
announced a 100-day challenge and told the business that
we were going to go live on the second day of January.
I had an awful lot of people come to me and say, “Hey
Richard, this is a really good idea and I can see why you
want to do it, but unfortunately, I won’t be able to have
my area ready in time.” My response was, “Great. At the
moment, I’m going to the board meeting every month and
I’ve got an hour on the agenda. Would you like to have the
last 10 minutes to explain to the board why IT is going to
be ready but you won’t be?” I insisted that if we actually
focused on what it would take to go live on that day, we
would find innovative ways to get there.
And we did. We found bits of functionality that helped us

stagger the implementation. We found new ways of bringing people up to speed. We changed the order in which we
went live in each country, making it easier for us to enter
data into the system. Teams innovate and improvise when
everybody is focused on how they can deliver on a
specific date, instead of thinking about all the reasons why
they cannot.
The other thing I did was to change the communication
process. We ended up having a telephone conference with
people on the business side twice a week. Now, the
project team could bring issues to the business that
required a decision to be made. It also allowed the
business to clarify what was going on and what the pressing issues and concerns were.
Before we began this twice-weekly call, there would be a
meeting in which it was decided which group of people
would get together in three weeks’ time to decide how we
were going to make a decision around some piece of
functionality that may or may not be required in the
system. This meant that the program was sitting on its
hands, waiting for business decisions and the business
was sitting on its hands waiting to work out which way the
system was going to go.
With the new communications process, if somebody had
an issue, question or concern, within 48 hours at most, it
would go to the senior executive team from both the
business and IT and we would make a decision. This
massively sped up the decision-making and approval
process and took the brakes off the whole program,
enabling us to deliver it on time – early, actually – and on
budget.
Motivating with an Inspiring Vision
A stake in the ground can also be an inspiring and uplifting vision. In my current job, a board decision was made,
just before I arrived, to merge four different IT organizations which had always been federated. As a result, from
my first day on the job, the four IT organizations of the
Long-Term Savings division have reported to me in a role
that did not exist before.

There would be a meeting in which
it was decided which group of people
would get together in three weeks’
time to decide how we were going to
make a decision around some piece of
functionality that may or may not be
required in the system. This meant
that the program was sitting on its
hands, waiting.

CIO Straight Talk //

59



CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2

CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2
Contents
So What Do CIOs Want
Innovation at the Periphery
The CIO as Thought Leader
Career Move: From Managing Technology to Managing Change
Every CIO is in the Information Business
Analytics and Decision Making
Putting IT at the Center of the Customer Experience
Pick n Pay Focuses on Delivering Value to Customers
Bringing "Lean" to IT
Whither the Cloud in a Stormy IT Enviroment?
Management by Driving a Stake in the Ground
From Data Processing to Orchestrating Knowledge
Extreme Collaboration
Enterprise Mobility: Delivering the Connected Customer Experience
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Cover2
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 3
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Contents
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 5
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - So What Do CIOs Want
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 7
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 8
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 9
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 10
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 11
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 12
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 13
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 14
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 15
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 16
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 17
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Innovation at the Periphery
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 19
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 20
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 21
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - The CIO as Thought Leader
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 23
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 24
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 25
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Career Move: From Managing Technology to Managing Change
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 27
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 28
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 29
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Every CIO is in the Information Business
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 31
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 32
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 33
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Analytics and Decision Making
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 35
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 36
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 37
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 38
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 39
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Putting IT at the Center of the Customer Experience
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 41
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 42
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Pick n Pay Focuses on Delivering Value to Customers
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 44
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 45
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 46
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Bringing "Lean" to IT
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 48
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 49
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 50
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Whither the Cloud in a Stormy IT Enviroment?
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 52
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 53
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 54
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 55
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Management by Driving a Stake in the Ground
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 57
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 58
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - From Data Processing to Orchestrating Knowledge
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 60
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 61
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Extreme Collaboration
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 63
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 64
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 65
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Enterprise Mobility: Delivering the Connected Customer Experience
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 67
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 68
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 69
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 70
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 71
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 72
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 73
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 74
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Cover3
CIO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - Cover4
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