CDOs Need to Get Some Top Cover

Newly appointed CDOs need to get bureaucratic protection and sponsorship from a champion, ideally someone very high in the organization. This will help overcome organizational inertia and develop buy-in for change. No matter how good CDOs believe their ideas are, others have to think that it’s okay before change can happen. Therefore, you must answer the question, “Who cares and why?” This is the key to finding the people who may want the problem solved.

Answering the "who cares" question also means that CDOs should be ever aware of existing bureaucratic inertia and the effects that it causes. Armed with this understanding, CDOs can use the information to thwart behind-the-scenes activities that undermine and discredit CDO work. CDOs also should not be so heavily vested in their ideas to the point of “plowing ahead” with no regard for the rest of the organization. This can lead to distrust of a CDO’s intent and direction. Instead, CDOs should dig deep and leverage communication skills to solicit help from stakeholders to develop plans and strategies that tie into existing programs and projects. Stakeholders are people who have an interest or concern about a specific problem, the outcome or the decisions leading to the result. Not all stakeholders are executives, and vice versa. The easiest way to determine if people are stakeholders is to decide whether or not they are at risk of losing or gaining something. They may be at risk because they are ultimately responsible for an outcome. They may be at risk because CDOs are changing the way the organization makes decisions or performs a particular business process. Remember: when CDOs make a change, there are always winners and losers, and CDOs must understand stakeholder dynamics to steer the discussion and activities in a direction towards the desired outcome.

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