Changing Culture and Driving Results
Omer Awan won the CHIME Transformational Leadership Award in 2018, and he did it by thinking big about culture.
To Awan, culture is a key driver in any organization. It sets the right tone for a department and subtly teaches the real values of a group of individuals. “Without the right culture,” Omer said, “you may be able to drive one or two transformative initiatives, but it would not be a consistent and repetitive virtue. There is an ancient adage that ‘old does not get you new.’ It is important to provide teammates with a new lens to see the same things, differently.”
With over 20 years’ experience in healthcare IT, Omer serves as the senior vice president and chief information and digital officer at Navicent Health in Georgia. Omer shared details about his strategy for transforming the culture at Navicent. “We developed a clear vision with three clear themes, ‘Strengthen Foundation,’ ‘Advance Culture’ and ‘Innovate,’ and rallied up teammates around them.”
These themes helped support the roles each team member would play in their transformation and gave purpose to the changes he would make. On the major shifts in thinking his work produced, Omer recounted some basic changes that had a huge impact. “We focused a lot on developing standard and repeatable processes that would yield optimal outcomes. We also focused on instilling a culture of open communication. Everyone has a voice, and if you have a new idea or oppose a certain direction, you have the podium as long as you can back it with facts.”
These kinds of culture shifts don’t happen overnight, and neither has the evolution of the CIO. The role of the CIO began to evolve prior to CHIME’s formation in the early 1990s and continues to evolve to this day. Omer broke down the evolution of the CIO into three stages – 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0.
“With CIO 1.0, IT is considered a siloed support function that cascades expertise and tools to the organization. IT does not have a seat at the table, and business leaders develop the strategies and IT implements the technology to support it.
“In CIO 2.0, the CIO is a business leader first, and a technologist second. Organizations recognize that role and invite CIOs to the table and partner with the business to co-create secure and reliable solutions.
“Finally, CIO 3.0 means leaders are fully leveraging technology to create new opportunities and capabilities that shape and guide strategy and operation. IT participates in the creation of customer value and strategic advantage. Finally, IT plays the additional role of chief digital officer or closely partners with one to focus on patient experience and patient engagement by developing and implementing a digital strategy.”
Some organizations are still stuck in “CIO 1.0” mode, even today. The very best have achieved 3.0, and are innovating constantly. Omer envisioned the role of the CIO moving forward, saying, “CIOs are well positioned to play an instrumental role in the innovation space for the organization, if not drive it.”
There are CIOs and other leaders like Omer who are leading change from the front lines, whether that’s improving the culture of the organizations they serve or adapting new technological advances to fit their organizations. If you or a deserving peer are transforming health and care from the front lines, consider submitting a nomination for an award in the CHIME Awards Series. As CIO leaders, many members are doing great things that deserve recognition. You can read more about each award and submit a nomination here.
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