The Business-Technology Weave

Mar 17 2010   6:15AM GMT

The People Prism

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott

Always view your organization through the people (Business) prism first, and mold the technology to those needs. This may seem obvious but many an IT professional misses, or forgets, what we discuss here.  True, there will be times when evolving technology will drive business practice to a degree, but you must always consider the business requirement and impact to people. This will come naturally to the Business leader, so let’s concentrate our attention on IT’s necessary people-awareness in getting the organization to where it’s going.

Developing a model for identifying needs, finding potential solutions for support of those needs, and exposing the organization to the choices requires cooperation. Subsequently, choosing the best solution, managing its implementation, turning on the solution, and ensuring its effective use requires your ability to effect the best collaboration among people. Of course, the biggest challenge in any endeavor, technical or not, involves human beings. Managing people – not just the formal management of those that report to you, but to include the informal managing of those around you, above you, and even external to your organization – can be difficult. Maybe you think it’s always difficult, only varying by degrees. It doesn’t matter – the fact is that you want to manage as effectively as possible. You have to build teams. These teams will comprise business partners and technology partners.

You want to get along with everyone, but you must get the best from everyone – not just your staff but also your boss, your board, your fellow managers in other departments, your solutions partners such as vendors and contractors, and associates in other organizations. In other words, we want everyone’s “best game.” You want to contribute to everyone’s potential to bring his and her best game to the mission each day – particularly when partnering with you. That’s a weave that’s mutually reinforcing – the better you get people to partner with you, the greater your success and standing. Much, if not most, of what you do depends on others. The larger an endeavor, and the more comprehensively it affects the organization, the more people you’ll have contributing to the success of the endeavor (and therefore to your success).

At the same time, you’ll have more people who have potential to limit your success. There will be those who will resist change of any kind. The people who resist change most effectively are the people with the power and means to do so – unfortunately. But that is the sense of it – they’ll have the weight to throw around in resisting and stalling projects. They won’t contribute unless pushed and forced to contribute. Part of your success in contributing to an organization’s evolution – its ongoing successful transition into the future – will be to know when to do the pushing yourself, and when to defer it to another – your boss, for instance, or another authority (for instance his or her boss, etc., on up the line depending on the level of the person who needs the push, and the critical nature of lags). When necessary, you’ll have to know how to present the deferment.

You’ll need to use the appropriate language, tone, reasoning, and degree of brevity or detail. Remember to “speak to your audience” – for example, keep technical details away from top management, unless solicited, and rather expose the business facet of issues. Obviously always start with your direct supervisor. Remember that for any technical arena, on any technical project, in any IT department, you are wrapped in a business environment – people determine where you’re going, people will determine your level of success, and people will always be your biggest challenge. Many a professional has delivered top flight solutions, repeatedly, yet fails to advance – and wonders why.  Always assess how you’re speaking as well as what you’re speaking, and to whom and why.

Know the people (their capabilities, their prejudices, their strengths, their weaknesses, their fit to other people, etc.). Have a good look at your organization today - through the People Prism.

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