February 25, 2013, 10:30 AM — A complex undertaking like restructuring an IT organization requires delicate handling. Approaches range from savvy to silly, and within the past year, I've seen efforts at either end of the spectrum, at two large enterprises with long-serving CIOs.
At the savvy end, the IT leadership team developed the plan, with only limited help from a small team of consultants hired to test assumptions, offer industry perspective and debate the merits of various organizational models. The plan was developed in just two months and announced a week later. It included layoffs, but the organization mourned briefly, then returned to work.
Far sillier was what happened at the second enterprise. There, the CIO delegated much of the planning to a large team of consultants, who analyzed nearly every aspect of IT before recommending a major outsourcing effort. Executives and IT management had almost no opportunity to contribute to or critique the plan. Early on, the CIO announced that IT would be restructured, declared that no IT jobs were safe and informed employees that they would need to re-interview for jobs. But the planning continued for almost a year. In the meantime, productivity plunged, morale tanked and critical staffers left the company.