The 30 Game Changers in Your Organization

I previously posted that great leaders focus on setting the agenda, building a great team and delivering with consistency. However, that is only part of the challenge for a leader, because none of that matters if you can’t “sell it” and if the business won’t consume it. That’s where “Street Smarts” are required, but I prefer to think about it as the importance of knowing the organizational dynamics and collaborating with people that can help set and sell the agenda. Notice the dual obligation to both set the proper agenda and then get the right people to support and promote it.

You Can’t Successfully Drive Change Alone

If you are to create and pursue an agenda that’s meaningful, you’ll need the support of the CEO, CFO, CMO, etc. However, you’re going to have to dig a little deeper in the organization to gain input and support from leaders that are willing, and in a position, to help you not just play the game better but to help drive change. These are your GAME CHANGERS, and to successfully drive any real change, you’ll have to find and spend time with them to gain their understanding and support. I’ve seen it be as few as a dozen but never, even in global companies, be more than 30. I know that might seem like a very small group, especially in a big company, but the concept is to get those few game changers to really own, lead, drive and influence others. Eventually, the belief and momentum does have to reach hundreds, or even thousands, of people in the organization, but it starts with just a few well-chosen and committed leaders.

You Have to Pick the Right People

This group should consist of key leaders of units that you’ll need to help lead the change. Having a Finance and HR leader on the team is critical since you’ll need to keep the CFO and CHRO working with you. It’s also vital that you don’t underestimate leaders on your own IT team since a major component of success is to achieve the business outcomes on a modern, technical architecture with a highly productive IT organization. This group needs to have great representation across the executive team and business unit or P&L owners – or at least those relatively high-level people who influence those executives.

You Have to Put in the Work

Building this collaboration network of game changers will require large amounts of your calendar time to really engage deeply and consistently with these game changers. It’s going to take a lot of effort on your part, but you simply can’t run a successful transformation campaign without putting forth that effort. You have to make the time, and this is true of every department or functional leader. However, it’s more time consuming for the modern CIO, because you touch every function and, effectively, play the role of Chief Integration Officer for the enterprise.

In this modern era, functional excellence has become “table stakes,” making it so that true growth and prosperity requires cross-functional excellence that only the CIO can make happen. Also, achieving a seamless customer experience and acting as a global company or leveraging supply chain power, requires that multiple business units, geographies and functions work together across normal boundaries. As CIOs, it’s our job to enable this cross-functional, cross-business unit network of leaders to think and act beyond their own local interest or silo. Therefore, assembling a group of like-minded allies with broad perspectives, influences and motives to help change the game is a major competency of a great IT leader.

Author: Charlie Feld, Founder, The Feld Group Institute
Connect with Charlie Feld on LinkedIn

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Russell Villemez

Affiliate, The Feld Group Institute

Head of Technology Strategy, Dialexa – a Feld Group Institute partner

Highly regarded CTO and change agent with IT strategy and enterprise architecture expertise.

Russell Villemez is an Affiliate with the Feld Group Institute and the head of Technology Strategy at Dialexa, a Technology Research, Design and Creation firm that works with organizations on initiatives such as Operational Transformation, Business Growth, and New Venture Creation.

During 17 years in operational roles and 15 years in consulting roles, Russell has worked across a variety of industries in both executive leadership positions and as a subject matter expert. Russell thrives on the scale and complexity of leading major change agendas in large corporate environments.

Recent consulting clients include AmerisourceBergen, the American Automobile Association, Brinker International, Cubic, Equifax, and Cox Automotive. A common thread is the client’s need for strong leadership during a period of change—whether motivated by acquisitions, spin-offs, competitive pressures, or other factors. Clients also benefit from Russell’s expertise in enterprise architecture, agile development, application portfolio rationalization, technology and architecture strategy, as well as business strategy and commercial software product development.

Recognized as a versatile IT executive, adept at solving complex problems with innovative solutions, Russell’s capabilities and achievements span a continuum from business-strategy formation to hands-on IT solution development. His extensive career achievements include pioneering the first use of relational databases in high-volume transaction systems in the ‘80s, applying voice recognition DSPs in public intelligent network services for consumer markets in the ‘90s, and leading large-scale adoptions of open systems, object technology, and middleware frameworks in complex business environments, often in advance of commercially available software products.

Prior to joining Dialexa, Russell served at HP as Enterprise Services Chief Technology Officer for the Americas, leading a global capability for embedded Account CTOs in large enterprises. Russell began his career at Accenture, where he first crafted his consultative problem-solving approach, later honed at A.T. Kearny and the Feld Group. Russell’s deep telecom experience is built upon numerous director and enterprise architect positions at AT&T, Bell Atlantic, Telstra, US West, Pacific Bell, and Sprint, and as V.P. and CIO for WebLink Wireless.

Russell has a BS in Business Administration from Louisiana State University and an MBA from Vanderbilt University. In his spare time, Russell participates in amateur auto racing, and is a driving instructor with the Porsche Club of America.