When David Bray arrived in 2013 to lead IT at the Federal Communications Commission, he found a department in a certain amount of disarray.
There were 207 different IT systems for an agency of just 1,750 people; the average age of those systems was more than 10 years old; and the agency had had nine CIOs in the eight years prior to his arrival.
Two-and-a-half years later, thanks to the efforts of what Bray calls "a team of positive change agents," the FCC has no systems on premises at all.
"We either moved straight to cloud services or to a commercial services provider," explains Bray, senior executive and CIO, "and we've been able to reduce the spend that we have on our IT operations and maintenance from being more than 85% of our IT budget to now being less than 50%."
As a featured speaker at IDG’s recent AGENDA16 conference, Bray described the way he leveraged change agents within his department to move the FCC to the cloud in record time. (Listen here to an audio podcast of Bray's complete AGENDA16 presentation.)
"The most important takeaway for any C-suite leader is you have to embrace change agents in your organization," Bray says. "You have to be bold, brave and benevolent across your entire team."
And in a bonus video clip, Bray describes for Computerworld three key tenets that CIO should adopt to help their teams to transition their organizations to the cloud:
Embrace the power of diversity -- "When you're trying to encourage positive change agents, you really need to recognize that there's value in different views, both in terms of experience and in cognitive perspectives. Studies show that a combination of expert and naive perspectives outperforms just expert opinion alone."
Bray warns, however, that "diverse viewpoints only work if you have shared goals. The art of good C-suite leaders is to get buy-in to their goals before they actually encourage that diversity, because that way you're all one team united behind one mission before going forward."
Tap the power of the edge -- "When you're encouraging change agents, it's also important to empower 'the edge' as well as the center," says Bray. "Recognize that the people who are closest to the mission or the business of the organization have the best context for what needs to be done. Empower those folks at the edge to respond quickly and resiliently as opposed to making them wait for things from the top."
"At the FCC, I say to my people, 'give me three reasons why we should do something, but also give me three reasons why we shouldn't. And tell me how we're going to mitigate those reasons why we shouldn't,'" Bray explains. "My role as CIO is one of being an internal venture capitalist: I give people autonomy, measurable progress and a meaningful purpose."
Promote the power of the ecosystem -- To effect true transformation, IT leaders need to work horizontally with an ecosystem of staffers they may not have direct control over. "It could be people in your organization that are with HR or procurement or who work on some programmatic aspect outside your department," Bray says. Within that larger group, IT leaders should work to identify the intrapreneurs -- "the entrepreneurs on the inside."
"You don't tell them exactly where to go," Bray says. "You set the vision and set the rewards, as well as any possible disincentives." From there, change agents will work both within their own teams and other teams "to get to where you want them to go," Bray says.
Learn more in this audio podcast
This exclusive audio transcript of his presentation at IDG's AGENDA16 conference, Bray explains how change agents make IT transformation happen, and offers specific advice to tech leaders on how to groom IT staffs to become force multipliers in helping create change.
Please click on the audio file below to listen to the podcast.