“We Belong. – (Your Left Out IT Team)” (Chapter 5)
One evident problem in many organizations is that CEO’s have never run IT & they do not understand the function, its tools, its staff, or, most importantly, where all that money goes.
This lack of understanding makes CEOs uncomfortable with IT and predisposes them to separate themselves from it.
Hence the paradox:
You (IT Department/Team) are intimately involved in every fact of the business, yet is often considered separated.
Generally, people on the organization do not understand how IT works.
And consumerization is making the situation worse, everyone understands what it takes to download an app, so they think IT is easy. When, IT is just getting more complicated.
Here are practical ways you can solve this:
Revisit Some Communication Basics
- Remove the separation between IT and the business and look at them as one. The IT Team should not be considered as a separate entity from the business, it is part of the business!
- Have lesser “IT-only” meetings. IT-only meetings were set up to make IT feel good about itself, but you can’t make IT feel good about itself if it’s not deeply entrenched as a valued member of the business.
- Make it a point that it’s not only the sales or marketing people who should be recognized for their contribution, include the IT team and people who have been working tirelessly to solve a problem that nobody seems to care.
- Give the IT person or team due recognition they deserve for keeping the business up and live, and their contribution on business transformation.
Recognize the Innate Power of Language
- Get rid of the jargon, look at terms and translate those into language that communicates their value to the business.
- Try different ways to communicate the complexity of data. Know what it is like to explain the manufacturing process to their customers, so they could relate.
Have A Motto
A Motto will remind your team of their role & importance…
Business fast and simple: “Three words that describe everything that we want to be. It is about delivering solutions in three months, not three years. It is about not having an IT agenda, but lining up with the business agenda. It is about changing from a culture where we couldn’t deliver a solution unless it was perfect.” —Wayne Shurts, CIO of SUPERVALU
The Four Cs of Diamond IT: “Can Do, Communication, Consistency, and Commitment. Each “C” has a series of specific ways of delivering great IT service to our internal and external customers.” —Brian Garavuso, CIO of Diamond Resorts International
Deliver technology at the speed of business: “This slogan captures the fact that the pace of business has quickened dramatically, much of it driven by the consumerization of IT. The traditional way of delivering IT services no longer works. We have to be faster, more flexible, more agile, and focused on bite-sized delivery that adds immediate and incremental value; if we do not, the business can pretty much do it without us, given how much easier it has become to build applications or acquire cloud services these days.” —Lakshman Charanjiva, CIO of NextEra Energy, Inc./Florida Power & Light
Strengthen the Business Skills of your Team
- Focus on your team, particularly those people who sit at the connection points between your organization and your peers.
- Your people should be knowledgeable, strategic, and committed to impeccable delivery.
- Regardless of the reporting structure, find that bilingual person who can keep one foot in the business and one foot in IT, educate them about the business.
- Assign each IT leader in your organization to a partner on the business side, regardless of what projects or programs they are working on.
- Make your business leaders become more knowledgeable about your strategy in IT and get IT people smarter about the business.
- IT is often isolated because nobody knows who & what they are for, but by aligning IT leadership team with business executives, you establish transparency in both directions, creating dialogue.
- Focus on how IT leaders can change their communication style to be appropriate to the person they were talking with.
- Do not blindly give business experience to your people, Align your team with the roles of which will help them grow professionally.
- Do not neglect training your teams on project management, quality assurance, requirements definition & negotiation skills.
Invest also in widening your knowledge—these books give tons of brilliant ideas…
Your Reading List
- Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
- Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
- Lincoln at Gettysburg by Garry Wills
- Truman By David McCullough
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
- Raise the Bar by Mike Vance
- World Class IT by Peter High
- The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn
- The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google by Nicolas Carr
- The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu Goldratt
- LL Bean: The Making of an American Icon by Leon Gorman
The CIOs who have broken the “IT and the Business” Paradox spend time and energy on communication, language, training & relationships.
Have a vision for the way you want IT to be perceived & the ability to battle the natural order of things and embed IT in the business.
- Pay attention to language: In your reports, your meetings, your conversations, and your titles. Language is one of the most powerful tools you have (and it’s cheap); be sure you are using it.
- Improve your staff’s knowledge of the business: You don’t have to send them to business school when you have business executives all around you. Find a way to harness the knowledge of your colleagues to give better business acumen to your team.
- Embed your people in the business: Most CIOs are reorganizing from a traditional plan, deliver, run model to a structure of mini-CIOs each accountable for IT strategy and delivery to one major business area. If you haven’t done this yet, it may be time for a reorganization.
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You got my words!