The Business-Technology Weave

Jul 17 2010   8:32AM GMT

Want To Be A Hero?

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott

IT leaders – CTOs, CIOs, Directors, Managers, et al., who want to shine need to deliver according to business expectations. IT leaders who want to be heroes – that is, viewed as virtually indispensable to the organization - need to deliver on expectations and beyond.

Competing for your enterprise’s top concern is the issue of Business Productivity/Cost Reduction: In short, doing more with less. In fact, when surveyed it rolls in and out for the #1 concern along with Business-IT alignment. [Source: Society for Information Management].

Of course on its face, the “with less” part seems counter-intuitive to the “doing more” part. If we have less, spend less, have fewer people to do something, are we not then facing a constriction in what we can do?… produce?… deliver? Too many IT leaders default to this sum, as do too many business leaders and general staff.

Often times, having more money and resources actually leads to the delivery of duplicitous, competing systems.  Organizations and various elements within feel that they have to expend a budget so as to avoid having budgets cut the following year (government is a great example of this area of waste – and the resultant doing of less with more, for that matter).  Too, there is the pressure to constantly deliver something… anything – and deliveries within the wrong motivators are of dubious value.

Deliveries should fulfill value to business, and fulfill (fully vetted) business expectations.

Otherwise, organizations face an embarrassing wealth of “assists” to business – often bleeding across the line of diminishing returns: Training burdens, staff avoidance, silo’d systems – and a tax of sorts on the legitimate core systems by removing focus from them. Watch too for “pet” systems that have a business person’s  sponsorship, and their resultant feelings for vested reputation by virtue of whether that system lives or dies – no matter how cumbersome or ill-serving!

I am presently consulting at an organization that has made very poor demands of staff for fully utilizing core assets. Prior to my involvement, the organization’s take was to provide a bouquet of collateral products in assisting staff in performing their jobs, at staff’s request – until there was a dizzying fracture of reinforcing content, tons of hardcopy report output for delivery and share between departments, and a huge training burden for new, and even existing, staff. It was sort of like an anti-matter swirl of anti-ERP.

Incredibly, staff was quite receptive to a message about culture and some associated change: That is, to be a little more proactive in delving into core system’s robust online Help resources, to access authorized reference info on the web, and to be a little more self-sufficient in widening their facility within, and use of, systems and programs.  A monthly roundtable knowledge share is working quite well too, with a business person as leader with IT assist.

You can drive your organization to do more with less. But you have to be smart about it: praise staff’s present facility (even if it’s not particularly good) – soften all the blows. Then seek some willingness to explore, and to step up. However, be certain to gain sanction and support from your senior executive class – make certain they understand what it is you’d like to do, and what the payoff will be. It is they, with the true power, who must backstop the expectations for other leaders and staff in their best use of systems and resources.

When doing more with less, things not only become simpler, but easier. “Simpler” by definition is not the same as “easier.” Here what I’m speaking of is pairing a less-complicated – simpler – environment with staff’s capitalization on it by making themselves ever-more qualified to capture efficiencies and full-use, thus making their lives easier.

Mistakes should go down, interactions should be smoother and more efficient, and time saved can be leveraged to better oversights and ever more self-training and formal training. An accrual of returns.

I’m actually a hero (at least for the moment) – I don’t mean to brag, but if they’re calling me that, I’ll take it!

Want to be a hero?

July 17th: On this day in 1867, the first permanent university dental school opens in the U.S., at Harvard.

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