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How CIOs can drive change by setting a vision

Brian P. Watson | March 31, 2017
Sysco IT chief Wayne Shurts has a long track record of rallying his troops around a vision for change.

But he’s also spearheading the effort to change how IT functions. Like he did at Supervalu, Shurts is embracing a culture driven by agile development and DevOps, focusing on two-week sprints as opposed to months-long — or even years-long — projects. This iterative approach also helps drive the customer focus, as it allows product teams to move faster, get input from external stakeholders, and use that feedback to implement quick improvements.

Along the way, he considers how best to take advantage of the ever-increasing change in enterprise technology options — and encourages his team, as well as his peers, to not become too distracted by new tools. Shurts for years has held the belief that a five-year-old technology, implemented and used well across the organization is more valuable than a bright, shiny object that has slower adoption.

He’s also challenging his team to be “learn-it-alls,” not “know-it-alls.” For Shurts, it’s about instilling a culture of curiosity. With technology changing so fast, IT employees who focus on one specific tool can become irrelevant, so he’s encouraging his teams to expand their knowledge before becoming “a dinosaur.”

Not surprisingly, before Shurts had a chance to implement these initiatives at Sysco, he first had to deliver a rallying cry. When he arrived at Sysco, Shurts was charged with bringing together the IT and business transformation units, which had previously not agreed on the strategic direction.

At a town hall in October 2012, at the start of his tenure, Shurts articulated his key motivational principles. He emphasized the importance of caring about both their own colleagues and their customers, and he motivated the organization to focus on a common goal: To take the fight to the competition.

 

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