Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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6/9/2009
12:27 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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When Pain Is Written Into The IT Project Plan

In a complex, multi-year business-technology transformation, everyone knows there will be problems. Yet most don't do what Rockwell Automation CIO Mike Jackson did: Put that reality in writing at the start of the project plan. Here's how and why Jackson and his fellow leaders did that.

In a complex, multi-year business-technology transformation, everyone knows there will be problems. Yet most don't do what Rockwell Automation CIO Mike Jackson did: Put that reality in writing at the start of the project plan. Here's how and why Jackson and his fellow leaders did that.Rockwell Automation has been on an impressive journey of global process transformation, and I've been fortunate to hear Jackson present about the effort, including at the recent Wisconsin IT Symposium. There are a lot of lessons from the company's effort, but a simple, powerful one is how the project leaders--a team drawn from business-unit and IT roles--made clear up front that real organizational change doesn't happen without a level of pain.

In the operating principles for the project, first on the list is this:

Our business processes and practices will change significantly, and we will accept some disruption to achieve the ultimate benefits.

Jackson heard a few too many times from people that the transformation project sounded like a good idea, just as long as it didn't disrupt their businesses in any way. Rather than pretend this would be the first big project in the history of big projects that didn't come with problems, the leadership team took that idea head on.

There are a lot of risks in a major effort such as Rockwell Automation's. One of the sneaky ones is that a company doesn't change enough, that after all the sweat and cost the business is merely tweaked. A principle like Jackson and his colleagues laid down is at least one hedge against that risk.

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