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CIO reflects on a career of successful turnarounds

Martha Heller | Aug. 4, 2016
Looking back on a number of different corporate turnaround experiences, Marty Miner, CIO of Leidos, found that organisational design is key to success.

That visibility also allowed Miner to manage costs more accurately. "Once I could see how the work was getting done, I created a charge structure to more accurately track and forecast operations and projects," says Miner. "I could not have that kind of cost management insight when people were working across the organisation but charging all their time to their home division."

3. Let resource managers allocate

Miner broke the inherited IT organisation into operations, projects and resource management. "Over the years, I have learned that in matrixed organisations, the resource manager is a critical role whose sole job must be allocation," says Miner. "Resource managers must spend all of their time making sure that IT operations and projects are staffed sufficiently and that no one is sitting idle. I make sure that resource managers do not own work or projects so there is no bias in how resources are assigned."

4. Set the culture

"As I design an organisation, I carefully consider and nurture the right culture," says Miner. "My goal is always to foster a culture where people can't wait to get out of bed in the morning to get to work."

To accomplish this, Miner spends time making sure his direct reports have a clear understanding of the impact of their work. "I meet each member of my senior leadership team on a weekly basis to understand their priorities and discuss the impact of those priorities on their employees, peers, customers and the company," he says. "When they understand the impact of their decisions on all stakeholders, they are able to lead their organisation more effectively."

When Miner knows his direct reports are on the right path, he reduces those weekly meetings and starts scheduling "skip-level" meetings with the next level of staff under his direct reports. 

5. Prioritise family

"I tell my team over and over again that if you have something you need to do for your family, whether it's an emergency or a celebration, it's a priority," says Miner. "As a leader, you also need to make your relationships with your staff a high priority."

Miner makes sure he really knows his senior team, including what their kids love to do, where their spouses work, and where they live. "You don't get those strong relationships unless you really listen to your direct reports," says Miner. "And don't stop there. You should expect every manager to do the same across your organisation."

6. Remove layers

When Miner arrived at GE Aerospace, very early in his career, there were 13 levels of management between him and the CEO. "I was at GE Aerospace for six years and in my last year, there were only six managers between me and [CEO] Jack Welch," Miner says. "He had taken out that many layers. When there are a lot of layers or some manager in the organisation has only one or two people to manage, that is a red flag that makes me question the organisational design."


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