When Donna Roach began her term as a member of the CHIME Board of Trustees in January, she had a mission: to continue the dialog that started last year about how to continue to develop CIOs as leaders. It was a discussion that kicked off at the 2015 Fall Forum when Roach, CIO at Via Christi Ascension Information Services, and Tim Zoph presented the results of a survey designed to identify the leadership attributes that will be most critical for CIOs moving forward. In this interview, Roach talks about why the project appealed to her, the importance of alignment among senior leaders, and the results that surprised her most. She also discusses the increasing role of emotional intelligence in CIOs, the “scary” discussion that needs to be held, and what she hopes will happen next.
- Research goal: “What are the professional development needs of the CIO?”
- “It wasn’t a typical study.”
- Working with Tim Zoph
- Identifying gaps in alignment & key leadership attributes
- Operations “taking a backseat”
- “They want a strong senior leader at the table.”
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It wasn’t like a Likert survey. It was, let’s take what are some of the forces for change in the healthcare industry, and ask the CIOs, looking out to 2020, is that impact going to be the same, is it going to be greater, or less? It was really more of how would that attribute or that force of change impact you.
They’re being asked to lead the change and to be change agents within the organization. They’re also being asked to play a bigger role within the senior management leadership team and sometimes take on more roles within the organization.
What was interesting was the CIO said, ‘I don’t see myself as involved in the emerging technology and the future components of technology,’ whereas the executive team said, ‘Wait a minute, I need you to be at the table.’
A lot of times the CIO is the person that understands the technology in the industry and knows how to work hand in hand with change management to change the business model, and that’s what the executive team is looking for from the CIO.
Gamble: Before we get into the [CHIME] survey, can you just provide some information about your current role right now?
Donna: I’m Donna Roach, I am the Chief Information Officer for Via Christi Health, which is located in Wichita, Kansas. We are part of Ascension Health, which is the largest Catholic health care system in the US. I have responsibility for eight hospitals in the Kansas area and so I oversee all of information technology for the Via Christi Health Ministries.
Gamble: In terms of governance, how does that work — you report to the CEO at Via Christi?
Roach: Actually, it’s a highly matrixed organization, so my direct report is to a regional CIO within Ascension Information Services, Mary Paul. She is responsible for what we call the integrated ministries because Via Christi is a fairly new ministry to Ascension, and then my dotted line in the actual health ministry is to the CFO.
Gamble: In terms of how Ascension is set up, since that is such a large organization, is Mark Barner the CIO, or how does that work?
Roach: He is the CEO for Ascension Information Services, and so basically the regional CIOs, like my boss, report directly to him.
Gamble: It is definitely matrixed but I think it’s something that’s becoming more common as we’re seeing more mergers and acquisitions.
Gamble: And how long have you been in your role?
Roach: I started here at Via Christi in August, but I have been with Ascension from over four years now. I came from Health Ministry in Michigan, so I was responsible for Borgess, which is in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and I also had responsibility for Our Lady of Lourdes in Binghamton, N.Y., mainly because we shared a Cerner domain.
Gamble: And you said Via Christi is fairly new?
Roach: They’re new to Ascension. The sponsors came over almost a little less than three years ago, and so there’s been a lot of integration work to bring them into Ascension and all of the structure of Ascension Health.
Gamble: And a lot of that falls under your purview?
Roach: Yes. Via Christi actually came in through what we call the Marian Ministries. Down in Oklahoma, Marian has St. John’s Tulsa, and then up in Wisconsin they have Ministry Health, and so there are actually three CIOs, because of the size of Marian, that were responsible for that structure, which had been brought into the Ascension infrastructure. So, the Marian Ministry is actually close to a third or almost a half of what Ascension Information Services is — that’s how large the Marian Ministry is.
Gamble: So you were working in conjunction with those CIOs as well?
Gamble: Okay, so back in October, you and Tim Zoph presented findings from a survey, and it was really interesting to me. I was there to hear the findings from it, but can you just talk first a little bit about the genesis of this survey and how you became involved?
Roach: Sure. Tim actually was the creator of this survey. He was approached by the CHIME board, and as they were moving into their strategic planning process, they were really looking at what are the professional development needs of the CIO. And so Tim was working on it, and that’s when I started to get involved. He reached out to me and together we looked at how could we take this survey process that he had developed (he ran it through the board first) and replicate it over to our CIO membership. And then the next phase of it was to look at the executives that we report to.
The structure that Tim came up with was what are some of the leadership attributes that are needed out of the CIO, and what were some of the implications — the industry forces that are impacting the CIO? So there were two parts to this. The focus first was let’s gather the information from the CIOs and see what we come up with, but also kind of making the assumption that if we looked at other industries, we know sometimes there is a gap that exists between what the CIO thinks versus what the executive team thinks. So we said that if we gather this information from the CIOs and then we go to the executive team, could we understand what are the gaps, and then really step back and say, knowing these gaps or knowing what the industry forces are, how can we help build a great or really good professional development program for our membership within CHIME?
Gamble: Okay. So first it was a survey that was distributed to CIOs?
Roach: Right. So the survey — and this was definitely Tim’s flair on this — it wasn’t a typical survey. It wasn’t like a Likert survey. It was, let’s take what are some of the forces for change in the healthcare industry, and ask the CIOs, looking out to 2020, is that impact going to be the same, is it going to be one times greater or two times greater — or is it going to be one times less or two times less? It was really more of how would that attribute or that force of change impact you, so it was on more of a perspective study rather than saying, where do you feel it falls within this alignment.
Gamble: One of the big things that came up was the need for the CIO to become a change agent. What exactly does that mean?
Roach: What was interesting was if you really focused on the leadership attribute pieces of it. We had the CIOs also do a forced ranking. There’s seven of them: change management, talent management, senior management leadership, knowledge management, emerging technology, and operational management [and ‘other’]. And we asked them, where do you see these leadership attributes in terms of the future for you?
And from the CIOs’ forced ranking, where they saw the biggest need, they said change management was one definite area, as well as senior management leadership and knowledge management. Those were the top three rankings, and not necessarily in that order. They said senior management first, then change management and knowledge management. Those are the areas where they’re being directed, or that’s where they’re seeing a need in the industry.
It was interesting to get the perspective from the CIOs that they really saw that from a change management side, they’re being asked to really lead change. From an IT perspective, we think of change management as how do we manage change within information technology, but from their perspective, they’re being asked to lead the change and to be change agents within the organization. They’re also being asked to play a bigger role within the senior management leadership team and sometimes take on more roles within the organization than have typically been given to the CIO in areas that maybe have heavy technology components to it that they can bring some influence to, but they’re being asked to kind of like a step up a little bit.
Knowledge management was another interesting one, where a lot of times they’re partnering up with a CMIO or CNO in terms of clinical knowledge management and how best systems can be utilized to leverage more strength in that part of the executive team.
Gamble: So really it seems to be moving away from just operations and really going to a different level with leadership?
Roach: Right, and that was their perspective. That was where they said they are being driven. And a lot of times, from an operational management side, they really are saying, ‘I need to hand that off to a strong number two in my organization. I can’t be as I deeply involved in the day-to-day,’ which is typical of what the executives also told us. They said, ‘Yup, we don’t want your time being taken up in that day-to-day management.’
And then moving to the executives’ perspective, the executives also said, ‘listen, I have a lot of other operational leaders at the table that can bring that perspective — I don’t need the CIO to bring that perspective.’ So that was another example of alignment with what the CIOs felt. They were in agreement with the executive team that operational management is really taking kind of a backseat for the CIO’s future role.
Gamble: I’m sure it’s good to see that alignment, but then there are also areas where there was little less alignment or differing opinions between what they saw.
Roach: Right. It’s interesting, if you just look at top-box scores with change management and senior management, there was agreement among the executive team, and so you could see that they want a strong change management leader — they want a strong senior leader at the table. But what was interesting and one of the big gaps it showed was the CIO said, ‘I don’t see myself as involved in the emerging technology and the future components of technology,’ whereas the executive team said, ‘Wait a minute, I need you to be at the table.’
A lot of times, the CIO is the only person at the executive team table that is bringing that perspective, and so they really need to continue with that focus. I think sometimes the CIO shies away from that in the sense that you kind of get labeled as the technology leader. And what the executive team was saying is, ‘you don’t need to go into the bits and bytes of things, but you really need to be able to show where technology can take our future business and how we enable more technology going forward in the future, and really be the person at the table that’s reaching across to other executives to show how technology can be utilized in their areas to really lead the organization.’
So that was an interesting gap that we saw in the study. I think a lot of times the CIO is the person that understands the technology in the industry and knows how to work hand in hand with change management to change the business model, and that’s what the executive team is looking for from the CIO.
One of the other gaps, I think, that exists is that sometimes the CIO does bring a strong technology side. What the executive team told us through the survey process is that we need you to be partnering more with others maybe that aren’t as comfortable with technology, or from a historical perspective, they don’t have that perspective. That’s more in the clinical space where they’re really partnering with the CMIO and partnering with the CMO or CNO to bring that perspective and that leadership to the table.
Chapter 2 Coming Soon…