CIOs face challenges that involve more than IT

CIOs are finding that they no longer are managing only the IT aspects of projects. Instead, they also face the need to get employees to think differently about e-government.

“We are having to get people to think outside their normal flow of command,” said Dave Wennergren, the Navy’s CIO. “We need to get people to think about the enterprise. That is the crux of what CIOs are doing now.”

Wennergren, who spoke Friday at a breakfast sponsored by the Bethesda chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, said there are two kinds of change: revolutionary and evolutionary.

Revolutionary change, he said, is a sweeping kind that requires wholesale transformation across an entire agency. Wennergren said the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet project is an example of revolutionary change.

Evolutionary change is a slower kind that requires agencies to adopt a standard approach of transforming how employees do their work, he said.

Another speaker, Treasury Department CIO Drew Ladner, said change must be a sustainable partnership between a CIO and an agency’s component offices. He said CIOs must show:

  • Authenticity by acting as an ombudsman for the offices

  • Credibility by delivering on promises

  • Accountability by holding vendors and offices to performance goals.


  • Wennergren added that change management is easier when new projects achieve success quickly and when there is money to get the project off the ground. Giving workers information about change also eases the process by helping to allay fears they may have, he said.

    “It takes a leap of faith to initiate change,” Wennergren said. “You have to have a strategy to engage grassroots support and senior leadership commitment, and then you have to compress the middle because that is where most of the resistance lies.”

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