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Setting IT goals and making them matter

Dan Roberts and Brian P. Watson | Oct. 27, 2015
Veteran CIO Sue Kozik uses her results-oriented leadership to change the conversation in healthcare IT.

3 themes driving the IT role

But no one said it would be easy. Group Health hadn’t had a CIO in 10 years, so she had to work to introduce a different way to look at the role of technology and help the organization understand the risks, opportunities and challenges. Also, as Kozik admits, her direct style has led to startled looks as she nudges her colleagues out of their comfort zone and tests their assumptions about the role of IT. 

So she introduced three key themes for her team that summarize her driving forces. The first, “Make it easy,” sent a clear message: Don’t overcomplicate IT for stakeholders and business partners. The second, “Make it happen,” signaled her get-it-done approach — people need help, and they want empathy, but don’t forget that they expect action. The third, “Show we care,” spoke to demonstrating IT’s value by boosting their own business acumen and understanding of the larger organization’s goal.

There’s that word again: goal. Another key tactic she’s employed is to bring diverse voices onto her team. For the first time in her career, Kozik has physicians and pharmacists working for her. She’s also brought on digital and service management leaders from outside the healthcare industry, and she expects those different experiences to contribute and challenge the work of her team.

Kozik’s job, as she sees it, is to create “followership.” She can’t always be the smartest person in the room, so she fills it with the people who can fill in her gaps and bring different perspectives.

“I’ve got to get all of us working towards some goal. I see the pieces of the puzzle, and I’ve got to figure out a way for (her team) to see it and connect,” Kozik says. “That’s what I love about it: The puzzle changes every day.”


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