Booz Allen Hamilton CIO Brad Stone Discusses Key Leadership Methods to Foster Success

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As a global consulting firm with 30,000 employees from its beginnings in 1914, Booz Allen Hamilton has been able to grow through the ages by helping to redefine the industry through advances in technology and sourcing the right talent Is. Brad Stone, who has been with the company for more than 25 years but most recently became its CIO in 2021, had a deep knowledge of the brand, its structure and ambitions, but understood there was much to learn in his new role , especially where improvements can be made.

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“It was interesting to join this team and be CIO at an organization that I knew well,” he says. “But what I observed, despite the tremendous talent, was that service delivery was often fragmented and not fully integrated to a single set of outcomes, and was at times driven by different corporate priorities that were all but important. Were not seamless against a unified result. So we had big stakes, but our sum was no bigger than our share.”

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From this starting point, Stone hit the reset button, mapping out five core organizational principles that have driven growth and helped strengthen the business. Ongoing and unforeseen disruption also focused on simplification with employees and customers, and has changed the way IT teams think about strategy and take informed risk, for example, to focus on a DevSecOps lifecycle. To improve accountability and transparency, for pipeline things and to combine.

“We defined a clearly set service catalog against a passive framework, and were able to set portfolio leads around the capabilities we developed,” he says. “What this enabled us to do is achieve a centralized objective to accelerate growth and enable business success, tied to the idea of ​​attracting employees and giving them some autonomy or ownership, while still is part of the greater good. You change the world one person at a time, and I’ve seen that cultural experience in the way we’ve arranged it.”

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Stone spoke at a recent summit with Julia King on Leading in Disruptive Times, Contributing Editor to the CIO, about key leadership methods to foster success, and how to be “client zero.” Booz Allen is designed to inspire and retain talent while constantly learning and embracing it. Reliable relationship building techniques.

Here are some edited excerpts from that conversation. For more details watch the full video below.

On 5 organizational principles: It starts at the top with operational excellence—actually living it, not just saying it. So it’s accountability for what the metrics are, celebrating how the company is progressing and overcoming difficulties, such as deleting something. I love cleaning stuff up and when we turn off a service to make it simpler, we make other services even better. Second, have a flexible enterprise that is risk-aware. We have to recognize that things will get worse, and it’s about our ability to fix them. The third comes back to providing innovative service and solutions to our users. If you don’t, people will find it for themselves and run it under your shadow. The fourth is about being a data-driven organization. We need to make sure that we have the same source of truth in all organizations. We have multiple platforms to run our business and to do this, we need to not only be that central source of truth, but also future proof it with our organization. And the last thing we want to do is to attract employees. We are fortunate to attract and retain some of the best in the industry, and we have set our goal to be a premier organization for IT and cyber security professionals. So what we do in all five of these is hold ourselves accountable to them, drive the metrics against them, and define the key success factors, and, again, celebrate and tackle those areas. which we need to improve.

On dealing with disruption: Disruption provides plenty of opportunities to rethink why we do things and how we do them. We are a professional service organization at our core due to reliable relationships. The pandemic posed a challenge because we were a culture that wanted to join hands and let people know how we connected with them. And the disruption over the years has forced us to change that. We have had to embrace technology not only as an enabler, but ultimately as a foundation by which we build those trusted relationships. It has challenged us and transformed our various clients. Fortunately, our people are incredibly resilient. The other part is a core infrastructure team that can provide feedback. But as we come out of the pandemic, that disruption has to be simplistic and balance with a remote hybrid model for our 30,000-plus global employees so it meets their needs. The key is to make it simple so that we can give them something to connect with their fellow employees, our customers and their communities. If you’re able to identify some of the archetypes, then look for the biggest good, and then handle those exception cases – as we consider specialized services – it allows us to continue to provide the core services that do that. connections are important. But the budget is not growing, so you need to be efficient.

On leadership: Over the years, I think any CIO or technology leader has been marked by agility, the ability to learn new things, and informed risk-taking, and the pandemic only enhanced those characteristics as a leader. Is. Your ability to keep pace with unplanned events, and your ability to handle various demands is enhanced through this. But one thing I’ve noticed is the need to simplify things as a leader, whether it’s with your stakeholders and customers who are taking advantage of your services, or, most importantly, with your employees. with. Making them simple about everything we do is what empowers our business. We are fortunate to be able to solve complex problems challenged by our customers, and running an organization like Booz Allen’s IT & Cyber ​​Security is an amazing mission. So if I can simplify things for my group of leaders, and then empower them in a culture of accountability, it makes you feel like you’re part of a greater good. This is a big reason why so many people join the company because it provides a call to do something for the nation, the community and the world. By leading that way and maintaining that agility and ability, but keeping it simple, it can be inspiring to all of our employees.

On innovating IT culture: In my previous role at Booz Allen, I was in the Innovation Group, leading a lot of our enterprise cybersecurity and IT innovation, so I knew what products and services we had. Huh. So one of the first things I did as CIO was to build myself what we call Client Zero. We leverage solutions internally, such as with next-generation data lakes that allow us to make data-driven decisions and not just go by the intuition that dominates large corporate cultures. In the nature of professional services, we constantly spin and spin new environments, from healthcare missions to nav security missions, consuming new data for our AI experts to solve. They need an agile set of infrastructure to be able to support this, so we’ve been able to adopt it internally as client zero. This saves money and has a feedback loop where we can rotate employees between our client delivery side and our internal business. I myself testify that as someone who spent many years doing client delivery, and I now enjoy a corporate role.

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