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Monthly Archives: June 2011

This article, from Bob Lewis at InfoWorld goes a long way to describe what I've been struggling with as an IT Director. I've read it twice, and I'm going to read it again. Break IT out of its silo. Make it an integrated part of the business. Get business owners engaged and accountable for using IT to make the business better.

The alternatives begin with a radically different model of the relationship between IT and the rest of the business — that IT must be integrated into the heart of the enterprise, and everyone in IT must collaborate as a peer with those in the business who need what they do.

Nobody in IT should ever say, "You're my customer and my job is to make sure you're satisfied," or ask, "What do you want me to do?"

Instead, they should say, "My job is to help you and the company succeed," followed by "Show me how you do things now," and "Let's figure out a better way of getting this done."

Don't run IT as a business with internal "customers":

Operating informally, doing favors, gaining deep knowledge into how the business works so as to offer suggestions on how to make it work better — these are what people do when they're in the same boat.

Take it all away and start acting like a separate business, and what do you have? A separate business, but without a marketing department, sales force, or possibility of turning a profit.

My advice? Don't act like a separate business. Do the opposite — be the most internal of internal departments. Become so integrated into the enterprise that nobody would dream of working with anyone else.

The train is leaving the station. There are plenty of seats available.

It's time to get on board.

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Another link related to the 2011 ITLP Conference (http://www.morassociates.com/2011Conference/).

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The first presenter was Kellogg’s Harry Kraemer, who gave a presentation on “Values-based leadership,” (Key Takeaway: Be Flexible). During this presentation he frequently talked about “Priorities” and the need to “Prioritize”. I countered with a brilliant summation of this Merlin Mann article, but like many works of genius the people were not yet ready for the experience.

A sample from Merlin’s work:

What I will tell you is that these ideas about scarcity and mutual exclusivity fly in the face of most “productivity” and “effectiveness” nonsense, and frankly, they make most people bristle. Big time. When I tell someone who’s making 10 times the salary I’ll ever make that it’s literally impossible to have seven priorities, they look at me like I’m the biggest, dumbest hippie in the world. Sheesh, right?

For the Cult of Priority folks, two things:

First, ask yourself why any “high priority” item has remained unresolved in your life for more than 60 seconds. Why isn’t it done completely? Have you ever “re-assigned” “priority” to some task? Really? Because that sounds more like procrastination than management, let alone “effective” action and decisive execution. Sounds more to me like getting paid $10,000,000 a year to re-arrange your spice rack — then wondering why your company, marriage, and back porch are all crumbling under your “prioritization.” Sounds like maybe you’re just feeling crummy about not understanding your job and your life. Once you know a tree is falling on you, you don’t take a meeting to drill down on strategies viz. arboreal exit strategies. You just run.

Also, number two — and this is a biggie — I’m staggered whenever a Director-level or higher executive claims they have 3, 5, 7, or 27 “priorities.” Because, at that level, your entire career is defined by the unbelievably great ideas that you reject. Painfully giant, wonderful, terrific opportunities that you simply don’t have the capacity to address without screwing up the real priority.

No, no, no, no, sorry, later, nope, forget it, later, no, no, no.

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This past week I was attending a leadership development conference in Chicago. One of the presenters was Bill Hogue, the CIO at the University of South Carolina. He mentioned a podcast he did with Jim Collins, the author of “Good to Great…”, and I post the link here for your amusement.

http://www.educause.edu/blog/gbayne/JimCollinsInterview/190971

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