by Roy Atkinson
Date Published July 21, 2020 - Last Updated December 10, 2020

Things that were thought impossible a few months ago—like having nearly 100% of employees working from home—have been made possible. Technologies never before used at some organizations have been implemented almost overnight. Policies, such as those that said employees could work at home if and only if there were no children present, have been rapidly rewritten. Almost all meetings are now held via video tools such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

Technologies never before used at some organizations have been implemented almost overnight.
Tweet: Technologies never before used at some organizations have been implemented almost overnight. @RoyAtkinson @ThinkHDI #leadership #techsupport #servicemanagement

As we turn the corner toward the “new normal,” it’s time to point out some important insights business leaders and CIOs have shared around the web.

Paige Francis, CIO and VP of Information Technology at the University of Tulsa, wrote “What the pandemic has taught me already: A CIO’s perspective.”

Those in the CIO role across all industries have been managing change—both effectively and ineffectively—for decades. There is a deep value to the buzzwords and phrases that are endlessly parodied and ridiculed—pivot, change leader, transformation, responsive, change culture, right-size, blah-blah-blah. Those words, though exhausting, have power when harnessed. Unfortunately, many administrators use the words and long to embody them but have no idea how to live them.

Until now. Hello, 2020.

In Rachel Goldman’s interview with Paul T. Cottey, CIO of Water Street Healthcare Partners, he reminds us of one advantage the CIO has in times of business need:
The CIO may be in the best position to see across the whole organization. Salespeople know sales. HR people know HR. Distribution people know distribution. And so on. The IT organization sees all of these and more and sees the relationship between them. The CIO can provide the ‘A ha!’ interactions between divisions/functions/teams/people and help provide guidance as to what is most urgent.

While it may seem to some that the world has paused during the current pandemic, that is far from the case. Businesses have had to reconsider virtually everything. According to this Star Tribune article by Minneapolis businessman Harvey Mackay:

Harvard Business School surveyed 600 CEOs recently and asked them what keeps them awake at night during this global pandemic. The results found that almost every aspect of doing business must be completely rethought for both short-term survival and long-term success.

The issues cited fall into three main categories:

  1. Continuous learning and integrating new information.
  2. Making complex decisions and plans quickly and solving problems.
  3. Empathy, maintaining wellness and focus.

He goes on to ask:

Where, you might ask, does compassion fit in business? Will it hurt the bottom line? Will it make our company look soft?

The answers are: at all levels, no, and definitely not. Compassion and profitability are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, companies that are perceived as people-oriented and good corporate citizens have a far better chance of succeeding than those that put profits ahead of people. In times like these, empathy will win the day.

New ways of working—another longstanding buzz-phrase—have arrived and are very likely here to stay. in this Fast Company article, CEO Jason Nazar wrote:

Some form of remote work may be here to stay, so it’s important to remain flexible and respect the new time constraints. Colleagues may not always be immediately reachable in the traditional 9-to-5 time frame as they were when they were in the office, due to homeschooling kids or caring for elderly family members. Setting boundaries and providing availability in advance is crucial for all involved.

Senior contributor Alice G. Walton wrote in Forbes:

We’ve been immersed, for example, in unbidden—but extremely valuable—real-world experiments in the powers of technological connectedness: telemedicine and working from home. These things will probably “stick,” to some degree, and make life better in lots of ways. We’ve also realized the extraordinary importance of preparation; we knew a pandemic would come around at some point, but we were still somehow largely unprepared.

CIO Richard Lang, Ed.D., shared these insights with HealthTech Magazines:

When looking to adapt, turn to your nursing, and ex-military IT personnel. They are instrumental in getting past: “Hey, did our CIO just go haywire?” banter to: “OK, we need to pull this together now … here’s how we’re going to do it…” They also quickly get used to the fact that directives are less of a discussion (in a crisis) and more of a tacit “do now.” The chain of command is imperative in this situation when the “do now” versus “plan to have ready” initiatives all blur together.”

Lang goes on to say:

It is impossible to over-communicate in this situation. Our CTO started a daily Zoom conference call that was attended by everyone in the department—religiously… This daily debriefing was the key to success—especially in the early stages. It also served as an inherent motivating force—helping the team take ownership for their contribution and feel more in control of their world.

Lang also points out one aspect of the job that has not changed:

CIOs should also take these opportunities to develop new leaders in their organizations. Never let a crisis encumber your ability to LEAD.

Roy Atkinson Roy Atkinson is one of the top influencers in the service and support industry. His blogs, presentations, research reports, white papers, keynotes, and webinars have gained him an international reputation. In his role as Group Principal Analyst, he acts as HDI's in-house subject matter expert, bringing his years of experience to the community. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. Follow him on Twitter @RoyAtkinson.

Tag(s): supportworld, technical support, service management, business of support, leadership, workforce enablement


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