Accelerating Illinois’ Modernization: 30-day blog spree Day 7: First 75 days

You'd be thinking what is so special about "75 days". Why am I not talking about my first 90 days or my first 100 days? While as a business leader, I was tuned to think in quarters, but Illinois does not have that kind of time. We need to move fast. Besides, if the President of the United States can transition into the office with 75 days between election and the oath of office, we should be able to move to the next milestone.

I have moved seamlessly between public and private sectors. This time, I was clearly tapped as a transformation agent, a CIO that can lead technology-infused transformation. My goal was to move quickly, establishing a sense of urgency while being open to key input. The State's IT required a long-term transformational plan, and some immediate actions.

First step was to signal change. It was no longer going to be business as usual. Speed is the name of the game. I met with 25 key agency directors in my first 3 weeks to understand business priorities and technology issues, and build relationships with these key executives.

Based on listening to them, I identified a few key items to build positive momentum quickly. The bar was quite low. People said, "Wherever you shoot there will be success." However, with limited resources, it was important to have clear prioritization of efforts.

  • State of Illinois did not have a unified ERP system (and it was 2015 already). We completed contract negotiations and a statewide ERP project started inside first 4 months. More on ERP on Friday…
  • We identified some real low-hanging fruit and acted on them. More on that later in the week, too…
  • My team renegotiated several large contracts saving millions of dollars for the taxpayer. More on that later in the week… (am I building suspense yet?)…
  • We stopped 14 projects that did not have well-defined ROI.
  • And I built a strong leadership team – from key internal members and from outside.
  • And we focused on culture change: from individualistic to collaborative thinking, from silo'ed to enterprise focus and from tentativeness to firm decision-making.


We built a high level executable strategy. It includes key business principles (i.e. RoI, Business case, Agile, 75-day milestones) and divides the journey from 1974 (our oldest system) through 2019 in 3 parallel steps. I will share this in video format later in the day.

More later…