Public Sector CIOs Could Lead Services ‘Revolution’ – Gartner

Gartner says there are three ways public sector CIOs can evade organisational inertia and drive meaningful change – both internally, and in terms of innovative digital public services

Posted 18 August 2016 by Gary Flood

Public sector IT leaders may be the individuals best placed to make the most of  digital opportunity in “times of change”, analyst group Gartner predicted today.

If that’s true, the benefits could be wide-ranging, it adds – as it could do no less than spark a “revolution in citizen services”.

The challenge, it acknowledges, is a familiar one: internal inertia, in the shape of what it dubs “top-down hierarchies, cultural legacies and the lack of a compelling vision”, as well as risk-averse cultures, resource allocation restricted to discrete outputs rather than holistic outcomes – as well as more external factors, like short election and budget cycles “out of phase with organisational needs”.

“Public sector organisat'Revolution' by Cesare Salvadeoions often have cultural and organisational mechanisms to buffer them from rapid swings in the political or economic landscape,” notes the firm’s lead thinker on these topics, Research Vice President Elise Olding.

“While [these mechanisms] provides stability, it also makes large-scale organisational change a difficult prospect.”

Adapt your leadership style

The good news, she adds, is that successful examples are starting to come through of just such successful digital services that it argues can, and should, be replicated.

To do so, she argues, public sector CIOs should promote a “compelling vision” of possible options – ideally, so short and compelling they could literally “fit on a postcard,” she advises.

They can also win hearts and minds by making change “inclusive”, providing answers to stakeholder questions along the lines of, ‘What’s in this for me or my team?’

Finally, CIOs looking to spark successful change should be prepared to adapt their leadership styles, she believes: “The CIOs who succeed… actively confront ingrained behaviours, traditions and legacy processes, challenge leadership, and are successful in instilling a clearly defined sense of urgency around their vision that gains the trust and support of the entire organisation, from leadership to frontline workers.”

Olding and the rest of her team promise to discuss these ideas in more detail at an upcoming Gartner event, its Digital Workplace Summit 2016, in London next month (21-22 September).