My first week on the job as the CIO of Medtronic, I set into motion a change that, at first glance, seemed like an easy way to save the company a lot of money. Little did I know, I was kicking off the first scuffle in my dealings with a man—we'll call him Stymie Stan—who was determined to be my adversary. This would be the first of three times in my first 90 days that he would act unilaterally against a team decision. He was the worst, but he wasn't the only resistance I faced at Medtronic. All change leaders need to expect resistance—whether it be from individuals or entire business units—and be prepared to overcome it.
The trouble started when, the day I arrived at Medtronic, I sat down at my new desk and booted up my shiny, brand-new, company-issued PC. I was amazed: Here was the Maserati of computers. It was perfect for someone in R&D, engineering, or quantitative analysis who needed real horsepower. Trouble was, my top driving speeds, like most people in the company, would be e-mail, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint slides.
I asked around and found out that everyone in the company got the same computer. IT had set the standard based on the needs of the highest-end users, which comprised about 15 percent of the company. Making matters worse, I found out we were paying through the nose for these machines. They were the same ones I had used at Georgia-Pacific, purchased from the same supplier for more than twice the cost.
After trying and failing ...