What he does: David Paschane heads up a small office with a big impact on one of the largest bureaucracies in the country. As director of the Office of Strategic Services at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Paschane works with a five-member team to solve organizational problems using technology and applied science.
"We're like in-house consultants," Paschane explains. "We define and measure key elements of the organization -- how information systems work, what people know and don't know, the triggers by which things get done -- and once we do that, we apply IT in a very clean, contemporary way" to help improve performance and, as he puts it, "debureaucratize" departments. Thus far, the Office of Strategic Services has taken on some 15 case studies, all aimed in one way or another at optimizing performance of people and departments. "If we can get 100,000 veterans to stay in school this semester because we fixed a problem within the GI Bill processes, that's a win," Paschane says.
What he brings to the table: Paschane may work in IT, but he's not necessarily of IT. With a master's degree in behavioral-organizational research and a doctorate in medical geography, Paschane's specialty is the really big picture -- applying science and technology to human and organizational development. He developed and now champions a discipline, the Performance Architectural Science Systems (PASS), that taps the power of operational analytics, advanced media and emerging technology to help organizations shift from heavy bureaucracies to what he calls "light enterprises" -- which feature increased capability, reduced costs and the ability to innovate.
His vision for IT: "The future of work is changing very quickly, and few CIOs get it yet," Paschane says. "They're not dealing with technology; they're dealing with knowledge workers." A successful information leader's No. 1 goal should be figuring out ways to support employees to help them achieve a higher level of concentration and deliver high-value output, he says. To that end, his group is testing tools like a "very fast continuous virtual desktop" and a dynamic online workspace that encourages productive collaboration. "CIOs who see the shift realize the richest opportunities are not in the consumption of technology but in the value of information to the organization," he says.
Bill Mayo, 47
Director, U.S. Commercial IT, Biogen Idec, Weston, Mass.
What he does: When Bill Mayo showed up for a job interview at Biogen Idec two and a half years ago, he was upfront in confessing he hadn't thought about biology since high school and didn't know much about the biotech industry, where Biogen Idec has carved out a niche developing treatments of neurodegenerative diseases, hemophilia and autoimmune disorders.
That didn't faze Greg Meyers, Biogen Idec's vice president of IT -- he had recruited Mayo for what he did know. Thanks to long stints at two blue-chip consumer products companies, Gillette and Procter & Gamble, Mayo was an expert at supply chain technology, just what Meyers was after. Biogen was expanding into new markets and developing an increasingly complex set of supplier, contract manufacturing and distribution relationships.
Now, as head of Biogen Idec's Commercial IT group, Mayo works closely with business unit leaders to make projects happen. "The question is always 'How can IT help the sales, patient services and marketing teams?'," says Mayo. "In the broader sense, we ask, 'What do we as a company need to accomplish? And how can IT help?' "