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'IT is a people game'

Divina Paredes | April 15, 2014
Claire Govier, CIO at healthAllliance, talks about preparing the ICT team as the country's largest shared services organisation shifts focus from regional to national operations.

Govier was CIO of Vodafone when her sister was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. When the opportunity to work at healthAlliance came up, she recalled her family's personal experience with public healthcare. "I would not have looked at it much more seriously than I would have if we hadn't had that experience."

"IT is a people game," she states. "It may use technology to drive outcomes, but it takes people and a team to really do that," she says. "It is 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year."

Healthcare is the same. "There is having the skills and the tools to do a job. The other is having the willingness and commitment to do the job," she says.

There are "cultural" and "leadership" pieces in the organisation that are needed if you want to drive change.

"A lot of my roles over the years are focused on lifting performance and managing change and driving a different way of doing things. That all has to be achieved through people."

At healthAlliance, this involves getting a team that is fully committed and works at a very high work rate and then asking them to do more as they add services and support national growth.

"The ability to focus people and to get them working as a team to drive those outcomes" is important.

"In this kind of organisation where we have to respond to so much in real time, you can't run a strict command of control. You have to trust the people in their job, doing their job, and give them the tools to help them do their job."

She has her sights set on how to manage this challenge. "In any complex environment you find the things that you can make a difference on and you focus and you drive it. Don't try and do everything at once. That's the real temptation when there's so many opportunities.

"Bite off some stuff that you can really make a difference on and push through on that. Now my focus is on getting my team really well-oiled and well-focused and having clarity on their accountabilities and outcomes. This isn't a one man game.

"If I can get 280 people really focused on one or two outcomes each, that drives a hell of a momentum working with their DHB colleagues," she says. "Whereas if I've got 280 people all working on completely different priorities, then you dissipate the focus." 


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