The CIO's strategic initiative should align with the company's overall strategy, but from there, where and how should the journey take shape?

In a nutshell, the CIO's strategic initiative will clearly define the desired outcomes and those planned outcomes will subsequently provide the vision for one or more programmes which will give rise to a number of projects and their associated activities.

It is critical that desired outcomes can be realistically achieved. Planning to run the three minute mile or have a baby in four months is unlikely to result in success; regardless of how much a CIO, CEO or other stakeholders might want it. No one should set themselves up to fail. The capability, capacity and the willingness to change all need to be sufficiently available or accessible before embarking on ambitious change.

Some of the key questions that should be asked are:

1) What are the objectives of the proposed change?
2) What benefits will the proposed change deliver?
3) Does the organisation have the capability to manage and deliver such change?
4) Are there any interdependencies with other initiatives that are planned or underway?
5) How will business-as-usual be affected and maintained?
6) Does the organisation accept that considerable effort will be required to bring about change?

Once the CIO is satisfied with all of the above and other considerations, their vision for one or more programmes can become a reality.

At this stage, each programme is expected to remain aligned with the CIO's strategy and lead change. Of course the CIO's strategy also needs to remain aligned with the corporate strategy. The Programme Manager has a responsibility to envision and communicate a better future with a significant focus on benefits and threats to them and the ultimate goal will be to design and deliver a coherent capability and add value.

Change is always a challenge, but asking the right questions before embarking on a journey to change, will at least help determine whether the journey is achievable or not.