Stagg-Macey Brings Celent a Focus on Cultural Factors of Successful Transformation

Insurers and other financial institutions overestimate the role of solution selection and project methodology and underestimate the impact of leadership and change management in transformational initiatives.

Catherine Stagg-Macey has rejoined Boston-based research and advisory firm Celent as Executive Advisor. Stagg-Macey will provide research and consulting services directly to clients across all Celent practices, and will serve as an advisor to Celent staff. In addition, she will continue as a principal in Belgrave Street, a boutique executive coaching firm she founded in 2013.

Craig Weber, CEO, Celent.

Craig Weber, CEO, Celent.

“We’re excited to welcome Catherine back to Celent, as she was instrumental in helping us build our global brand,” comments Craig Weber, CEO, Celent. “But the real driver is that our clients will once again be able to benefit from her deep knowledge of financial services technology, and her knowledge of the leadership behaviors required to support change.”

The role that leadership plays in successful transformation efforts is often underestimated, suggests Weber. Financial institutions tend to treat such initiatives as problem-solving exercises aimed at discrete problems such as picking the right software solution. When an initiative fails, the board may decide to cashier the CIO for making a poor choice, he notes.

“But firing the CIO after a problematic implementation is often misguided,” Weber insists. “Solid vendor discipline and project management are necessary, but they are not sufficient to achieve transformation. Softer factors like culture change, while traditionally managed outside of IT, are often the difference in any project that has grand ambitions.”

Methodologies and Human Factors of Change

Catherine Stagg-Macey, Associate Research Director, Novarica.

Catherine Stagg-Macey, Executive Advisor, Celent.

Transformation programs also commonly suffer from over-reliance on project and development methodologies, according to Stagg-Macey. “Transformation requires convincing people that change is required,” she says. “We see a consistent lack of focus on areas like changing mindsets, understanding complexity and stakeholder engagement. The fact that we as an industry have improved our application of project methodologies is terrific news and the next area of focus is to develop a robust change capability that fully embraces the human factors of change.”

Understanding the human dimension will only become more important as technology reshapes how business is done in financial services, and the pace of change accelerates. “Most senior executives we talk to think their ability to manage change is not at the standard needed for this constant change requirement,” Stagg-Macey reports. “As an industry we need to embrace the progress we have made and look to up our game in the face of the inevitable.”

Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at or (503) 936-2803.

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