Forbes CIO-plus Series: David Johns, Owens Corning

January 14, 2013
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As CIO and Chief Shared Services Officer, David Johns has yielded valued for Owens Corning through Centers of Excellence.

by Peter High, published on


David Johns has been CIO of Owens Corning since 1994, which is extraordinary considering the average tenure of CIOs today is roughly four years.  In that time, he has had multiple “pluses” to his CIO role.  He is currently the Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer, and Chief Shared Services Officer. Prior to his current role, he was Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer and Chief Supply Chain Officer.  He also led the Owens Corning Technology Center as Chief Technology Officer for a time.  Johns’ experience at Owens Corning highlights how solid work done in transforming IT, developing shared services or centers of excellence can yield value that translates to other parts of the organization quite well.  Especially since the economic malaise began in earnest in 2008, a number of leading CIOs have seized the opportunity to develop shared services have have yielded more efficiencies and value for their companies in the process.  There is no reason why this should not be done in other parts of the organization as well. The best CIOs, like Johns, realize that they are ideally equipped to lead this in other parts of the organization, as is highlighted in my interview with him below.

(This is the sixth in the CIO-plus series.  To read the prior five interviews with the CIO-pluses from Waste Management, McKesson, Merck, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Ameristar Casinos, please click this link.)

Peter High:
David, you led a transformation in Owens Corning’s IT department that seems to have been the model for the transformation of other parts of the organization. What is the common theme among these transformations?

David Johns:
Peter, you are right that there have been multiple transformations.  The common theme between what we have done in IT and what we are now doing well beyond IT is transforming into a services model.  What was Global Information Technology is now referred to as Global Information Services.  The idea of developing standard services for our diverse set of businesses to leverage makes a lot of sense in our minds. IT was simply the first of these services, but as we have extended the service philosophy to other parts of the organization, I have had the opportunity to lead other areas in transformation.  In some cases, we have turned over responsibilities for a function to a business leader elsewhere in the company, and in others, they have remained in my organization.

Peter High:
Can you talk a little bit about your time in having responsibility for supply chain and the rationale for moving it back in the business?

David Johns:
Supply chain is a relatively new science, and when we first implemented our global ERP instance of SAP, and built the integration across the phases of plan, source, make, and deliver, it made sense to pull supply chain as a function out and try and build new set of capabilities and new processes and really try to leverage the technology we were able to deploy across the corporation. Once we did that and we made good progress in setting out some of the basic principles.  We felt it made sense to move back the supply chain strategy and execution into the business first once we set up those processes and got them operating. We then kept customer service and logistics within the organization, probably for four or five more years.

A lot of this had to do with the fact that we had a different number of businesses reporting into the CEO, and then we made an organizational change within the business where the building materials business moved under one group president. At that point, it made sense to move it out of a centralized organization; so we moved logistics and customer service into different areas such as Composites and Building Materials.

We took shared services out of some of the business and moved it into IT to focus on building additional platforms.  We reached a point where it made sense to move supply chain back into the business.  The continuum we traveled was from strategy to execution to stable organization.

Additional topics covered in the article include:

  • What does it say about IT generally that this evolution was started, built, and matured within IT? Is it because of IT’s reach across the business? Is it due to special leadership traits that you possess?
  • What else can you share about the approach you pursued to develop a Shared Services organization?
  • What are some other examples of functions that are being added to the shared services?

To read the full article, please visit

To explore other CIO-plus Series articles, please click here.

To explore the Technovation Column library, please click here.

To listen to David John’s Forum on World Class IT podcast interview, please click here.

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