(US and Canada) Benjamin Wiles, Chief Data Officer, Clemson University, speaks with Denise Collison, SHI International SVP of Public Sector Sales, in a video interview about his background and the ideal approach to organizational change management.
Wiles is a mathematician and an educational psychologist by training. His first professional role in higher education was as the assistant head of the department of mathematics at Purdue University. He gradually moved to business analytics and joined Clemson where he also teaches statistics in the business school.
Speaking on the key difference between his role and that of a commercial organization’s CDO, Wiles says that Clemson was established to serve the people of South Carolina and is not profit-driven. While the university lacks the hard KPIs, he points out that the faculty in some ways are entrepreneurs in charge of their students’ careers.
Wiles goes on to speak about organizational change management, and defines it as improving the ability to execute or acquiring new abilities. He states that the ability is determined by the alignment between individual characteristics, the environment, and goals. In other words, he says that change management should consider how teams are distributed, their characteristics, and their environment.
When asked about how he addresses fear and encourages employees to embrace change, Wiles states that emotions like fear occur in predictable ways. He explains that humans have basic psychological needs like a sense of autonomy, feeling competent, and a sense of belonging. That way, they will proactively seek out environments that satisfy their psychological needs.
Wiles stresses that organizations need to humanize change. Creating autonomy-supportive structures that enhance the individual sense of competence and relatedness in the change initiatives make it easier to embrace change.
CDO Magazine thanks Benjamin Wiles for contributing his thought leadership to our global community.