Once upon a time, a business director approached to introduce himself. After his name, his very first words were “I’m ‘computer-illiterate’”. He went on to explain that he would be IT’s “best customer” because he required frequent help. He joked of being proud on mornings when he could just remember how to turn his computer on. He had a smile on his face, and he most likely thought that his confessed ignorance would be seen as a friendly sign. But, it was very dismaying – as his ‘illiteracy’ turned out to be true.
He was also positioned critically; his department relied on external technical subscription services and critical agreements with solutions partners in forwarding the organization’s business. Working with this person, although nice enough, presented difficulties. So, how is it that, in this new millennium, a person of otherwise high standing still has a comfort level in divulging ignorance regarding technical matters? This is an extreme limitation for any organization, regarding any job or position.
Thought of another way: Suppose you approach your CFO – you’re new to the organization. You’re a department head, a business leader, someone who is expected to set an example – a manager, director, or even a VP. You smile and make a confession: “I sure hope I don’t have to prepare or balance any budgets around here – I’m ‘financially-illiterate!’ In fact, I can’t even balance my own checkbook! Numbers just aren’t my thing.”
Every organization’s managers are required to maintain budgets and to know how to manage them. Presumably they are hired with some basic skills: knowing how to add and subtract, and having some common understandings of basic budgets and the required accounting principles. Just because a staff member doesn’t work in Finance & Accounting doesn’t mean they’ll never have to perform some nuts and bolts finance and accounting. Likewise, it is not too much to expect that managers and users have some basic computer skills.
That expectation is quickly morphing into the outright need that these people understand and promote their own use of technology in its relation to the business. After all, most people who enter an organization that has a Business-Technology Weave are the sort of people who have computers at home, or have used them in school. No one is allowed to get away with “computer-illiteracy” any more, or even a stagnant appreciation of technology. Your organizational culture must evolve to one whereby users and managers are imaginative thinkers when it comes to using and growing the organization’s use of technology. They should employ the same imagination and judgment when partnering on the use and plan of technology that they use when partnering with Finance on the organization’s budget.
Next: An IT Deficit