July 12, 2021
Mark ‐ CEO
In this interview, The London Clinic’s James Maunder shares with us his approach to creating self-empowered technology teams, and the behaviours that set an organisation apart when it comes to driving forward change and innovation.
From Geology to IT leadership
James’ impressive career history spans some big and well-known brands: Unilever, Twinings, Institute of Directors (IOD), Oxford University Press, and now The London Clinic, but before he stepped into IT leadership he was actually a Geologist.
James explains, “I used to study rocks, and analyse ancient climate change through their patterns. While I think the subject is fascinating, I quickly discovered that a life in academia was not for me. What I really enjoyed was working with people - mentoring, coaching and developing capabilities in others.”
“Initially, I got into IT through an advertisement I saw from Unilever. Paraphrasing, it read along the lines: ‘Hello, we have a problem. We have brilliant business people who can’t speak the language of IT and we have brilliant IT people who can’t speak the language of business.’ The advert was for an information management graduate scheme and that’s where it all started.”
Solving technical debt
One of the biggest challenges we see IT leaders facing is the issue of being a change enabler and building innovative products, whilst also trying to grapple with getting the basic infrastructure right and ‘keeping the lights on’. At The London Clinic, James’ approach is to try and bring the two together. “By dealing with the technical debt we will be able to bring innovation into the hospital in terms of how people work and collaborate together. And we free up front line clinical staff from dealing with paper, and enable them through technology to have more time focusing on the needs of patients,” he says.
“Our challenge is that we are not content with simply arriving at ‘good practice’. We want to leap-frog to a more innovative and class-leading future.”
Creating a culture that is open to change
Being able to operate as an IT department that can lead change and strategy across a business often comes with a cultural shift in ways of thinking. It involves faster decision making, and being able to prioritise where you put your focus. For James, a key area of development is team attitudes, rather than structures.
James says, “I think we worry about organisational structures too much and, in doing so, we over-complicate them. Simplicity and clarity in organisations are really important. And I think what tends to happen in large organisations is that complexity is mistaken for sophistication.”
Building up teams who can make their own decisions and act as leaders in their given area is clearly a passion of James, and something he has invested much time into at The London Clinic. “Engaged teams come with a lot of hard graft around behaviour and attitude. We developed some IT guiding principles to support day-to-day decision making, things like: ‘We are intolerant of duplication of functionality.’ We also have mandatory internal training around developing leadership capabilities and self-empowerment when it comes to making decisions. It ensures everyone is developing the same language, the same capabilities and it enforces the fact that we are all here to create and deliver value to The London Clinic.”
This article was written from an interview between Mark McNally, CEO of Worth Internet Systems, and James Maunder, CIO of The London Clinic. It forms part of our Learnings from Digital Leaders stream. At WORTH we believe that knowledge-sharing should be free, enabling and impactful. If you’d like regular insights from us, sign up for updates.