Bridging the gaps
Integrators are often caught in the middle of culture change at agencies, and they are often in a position to help facilitate it.
Unisys Corp. is one such firm, said Greg Baroni, president of Unisys' global public sector.
"Having lived through transformation over the past couple of years inside [our own] organization, and working with [the Transportation Security Administration], which is a start-up organization, and [the Homeland Security Department], which is consolidating 22 agencies, I'm getting pretty experienced at it," he said.
Of course, much of the culture change onus falls on the agency. But an integrator can help keep communications flowing and ensure that its relationship with the agency stays healthy.
"As an integrator, I look to [ensure] that there's clarity around the mission and the vision associated with the partnership" between company and agency, he said. At TSA, Baroni and Unisys officials charted the vision, mission and core values and then developed a strategy based on those elements, he said.
"Once we had that communicated, it couldn't stop there," he said. "We realized that we needed to seize every forum to communicate that mission and vision. We are two years into that relationship, and there is plenty of communication left."
The integrator can help make sure the project gets off to a strong start by setting some attainable early goals, he added. "You have to have some quick-strike success to sustain the momentum you're trying to create," he said. "If you don't have those quick-strike successes, the effort will fail."
It's important to back up the communications with rewards for superior performance by employees, said Tom Osborne, Unisys' deputy program executive for the TSA program.
Managers at the lower levels have to be wary of curmudgeons, he added. "Anytime you try to institute change, there's always an element that resists that change," he said. "People are used to doing what they've been doing, and you're taking them out of their comfort zone."