Growth Mindset and Skills Agility
CUSTOMER SUCCESS STORY
If there is one industry that absolutely demands skills agility, it is IT. With technology changing at such a rapid pace and digital transformation becoming a critical factor in every type of organization, IT functions across the globe are presented with the realization that they can no longer be reactive to technological advancements. The name of the game is proactivity in developing a roster of IT professionals who continually upskill and reskill.
When Richard Elliott—Head of IT Transformation, Digital Services—arrived at the University of Auckland, the IT function understood they needed to change. The workforce wasn’t as engaged as it needed to be, and the group wasn’t structured and aligned appropriately to provide a broad range of academic and business customers with stellar services. Through a process of external benchmarking and internal customer dialogue, the function’s leadership understood the need to respond more proactively to technological advances, rapidly pivot to changes in demand and establish the growth mindset necessary to stay ahead of the curve. While a new organizational structure and adoption of new processes, tools and techniques were needed, the most critical change that was identified called for a change in mindset.
With the active sponsorship of a new CTO—who also understood the need to place people and capability at the heart of the transformation — Richard set out to change the culture of the IT function. As a statement of intent, the group was renamed to “Connect.” New values were identified and agreed upon – promoting curiosity, generosity and the empowerment of both oneself and others.
However, cultural shifts don’t happen overnight and need sustained focus and attention. Since Connect is a part of the University, any new methodology on how to work needed the buy-in from a broad range of stakeholders. Within a world-class educational institution like the University of Auckland, a robust and data-driven approach was necessary.
Richard compiled a range of external research supporting the links between success with agile methodologies and a growth mindset. Most importantly, however, he painted a rich picture and vision for this cultural change. “I had to show stakeholders where we needed to take the organization and presenting data isn’t enough. I needed to engage them and build enthusiasm and understanding that making maximum use of our people’s skills and knowledge needed more than just a fresh organization chart and adoption of some ‘textbook’ best practices. If you achieve the right mindset shift and equip your people with the right tools, it’s incredible what can be achieved.”
He placed a heavy emphasis on the need for a roster of IT professionals who had a fundamental knowledge of the tech space, but also the ability to address skills gaps and pivot quickly to stay ahead of the ever–changing tech space. And while skills are important, the culture and attitude of the entire staff were equally critical. Just as the employees needed to be able to pivot and adapt, leadership needed to change how they supported professional development and deviate from traditional command/control styles of leadership. Richard’s passion greatly influenced the stakeholders’ buy-in.
Connect’s IT professionals are increasingly adopting a mindset focused on growth, fostering a culture of learning and talent agility and resulting in more engaged and productive teams. The group tackles objectives with leaner, Scrum-based squads and utilizes cross-functional delivery to create more value, more quickly to their customers.
“I had to show stakeholders where we needed to take the organization and presenting data isn’t enough. I needed to engage them and build enthusiasm and understanding that making maximum use of our people’s skills and knowledge needed more than just a fresh organization chart and adoption of some ‘textbook’ best practices. If you achieve the right mindset shift and equip your people with the right tools, it’s incredible what can be achieved.”
Head of IT Transformation—Digital Services,
University of Auckland.