How can CIOs preserve partnerships in the wake of major changes in their organization?

There were several partnerships that might've been positive, but because of other dynamics across the organization—new executives joining the organization, or a change in the strategic direction of the company—we had to have tough conversations with those partners. The first day I walked into FireEye, there was a combination of new investor relationships going on, and a former partner was now a direct competitor.. You start out thinking your infrastructure and architecture are stable for the time being, and then suddenly you're told that you have to replace some of the technology. Everybody's ebbing and flowing as a competitor, etc., so you’re trying to manage that situation as best as you can with no business disruption. If you have a good rapport and are as open as you can be with these partners, they’ll really help you through tough times where there isn't much upside for them.

Anonymous Author
There were several partnerships that might've been positive, but because of other dynamics across the organization—new executives joining the organization, or a change in the strategic direction of the company—we had to have tough conversations with those partners. The first day I walked into FireEye, there was a combination of new investor relationships going on, and a former partner was now a direct competitor.. You start out thinking your infrastructure and architecture are stable for the time being, and then suddenly you're told that you have to replace some of the technology. Everybody's ebbing and flowing as a competitor, etc., so you’re trying to manage that situation as best as you can with no business disruption. If you have a good rapport and are as open as you can be with these partners, they’ll really help you through tough times where there isn't much upside for them.
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Anonymous Author
People miss the fact that partnerships take time and effort, and it requires more than just the CIO's involvement. It's a much more collective effort. If it's a big vendor, the harsh reality is that you’re actually not likely to switch from that vendor. But there’s the reduction or the possibility of thinking about alternatives, which the vendor may offer down the road during the logical discussions.
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Anonymous Author
So having transitioned across different roles as well as across enterprises in the CIO role, let me add a perspective that worked for me: 1. Firstly acknowledge the existing relationships that were signed, whether you agree with them or not 2. Assess their effectiveness by meeting with the internal stakeholders, understanding what is working and what is not 3. Meet the partner management and operating team that supports your enterprise to understand the other side of the coin 4. Understand what can be fixed and what is irreparable and whether incremental change is possible and worth doing 5. What is the cost of change and how will it impact the business and tech teams 6. Is this battle more important than other business or technology priorities ? Strengthening an existing bridge is always better in the short/mid-term as compared to building a new one. This goes for relationships too.
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Anonymous Author
Currently going through a big multi-leader leadership change. I’m fighting to maintain all relationships but ultimately I can only control my part of it. I’ll try and update after the transition. At this juncture I’m remaining true to myself - as I always do - and doing everything I can to be respectful of the emotions that must be running through all those directly transitioning. Also I’ve had to remind myself and others multiple times that we are not the stars of this transition and we need to show a ton of grace for all awkward and sometimes short communications. Change is hard. Meanwhile, I’m ensuring IT is performing and projecting with excellence and professionalism, facilitating the off- and on-boarding and am ready to intro our work and our why to our incoming new partners.
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Anonymous Author
Having been in the situation where one market-leading consultancy was surreptitiously replaced with another, it's definitely not easy. We were 1/3 of the way through a multi year initiative (implementing a single ERP across 30 operating companies). The decision was not.mine (CIO) but made by the CFO and COO. The first thing I would say is the CIO really needs to try to understand the rationale for the change. Sometimes it's political, as it turned out it was in this case. Other situations, acquisition for example may be very different. But either way, find out as much as your able about the real motivation behind the change. Back channel and consult your trusted allies. Secondly, play "what if" to protect yourself from becoming collateral damage. Third, be the non-partisan who presents the impact of any disruption in measurable terms to both sides. Let that become your messaging backbone and over communicate. Lastly be empathetic and empathic. Regardless of the situation, I often say to stakeholders "I understand this difficult for everyone and I hope it won't affect our relationship going forward. If I can be of help don't hesitate to reach out." Bridges stand for aeons, be the bridge.
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