Team Players

By Alison Diana  |  Posted 2009-09-29 Print this article Print

Boeing’s IT organization has three primary goals: simplify the complex technology infrastructure, create the right alignment with business leaders and build a strong operation.

Team Players

Before turning to technology resources, Hinshaw first paid attention to the people who research, design and implement IT changes and support Boeing’s business goals. Like many executives, he wanted managers who straddled the worlds of business and technology—a combination of talents that is not always easy to find, he says.

“It is rare to have both very strong technical knowledge and a very good understanding of our business,” Hinshaw points out. “In general, folks do gravitate to one focus or the other. So I did a lot of interviews to find the right people.”

After his first three months in the CIO seat, Hinshaw presented his IT plan to Boeing’s executive committee and generated buy-in from all members. Without this high-level involvement, it would not have been feasible to change Boeing’s IT status quo, he says.

“The first thing I did was lay out a new organizational structure that was more aligned to our business structure, and then I found the right people to lead the organization,” Hinshaw recalls. “About half came from outside—Dell, Ford, Capital One—and the other half I found within Boeing.

“Building that right leadership team is important. One person or even several people can’t do the job alone. The vice presidents I put in place have built out their leadership teams similarly. There’s an IT leader assigned to each one of our key programs and initiatives. IT is not just a corporate function. We’re very well-integrated with the business.”

Integrating business-savvy IT people into vital Boeing divisions seamlessly pulls together technology and business processes, problems or opportunities, ensuring that the company has access to information about software or hardware that could improve operations. Since technology leaders work closely with these business units, they are well-entrenched in each department’s operations, requiring no additional ramp-up or learning curve to deal with a new technology that could benefit the company.

Alison Diana is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.

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