Posted by: James Murray
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I’ve worked as a Seattle IT consultant for years. But I wasn’t the first in my family to be in cutting edge technologies. When I was 8 years old, my father was an engineer working for a NASA contractor. His specialty was acoustical engineering. My father designed a speaker that created the same sound and physical modulation as an Apollo rocket engine. He would then use this speaker to shake apart rocket sections as a test. This was a new science that has never been used in this manner until the 1960’s. I mention this because I used to listen to my father talk about the difficulties between engineering and management. I can’t help notice the problems when IT communicates with management as well.
I find that this miscommunication is between IT and Management ends up poorly. Technology begins following a different path. With management following a different path from the CEO and other C-level managers, business growth can be stifled. The question I have is how do we align IT with the organizational vision and strategy of the organization?
After thinking about my father’s stories with NASA I began to realize. We just do the same thing that NASA and other firms, that require strong Engineering teams, do. Those companies made the engineers legitimate leaders within the organization. By integrating the Engineers into the leadership culture of the organization, the vision of the organization filtered into the engineering teams. Instead of being technology focused, the engineers became corporate focused. The result for organizations like NASA was technology that aligned with the vision of the NASA organization. Now the technical discussion could remain inside the technical groups in tactical conversations. By training and including engineers in the strategy of the organization, these leaders went back to their technical groups. Then reinforced the business directives with technical language and supporting solutions.
Make them leaders in the organization
“If you can’t beat them Join them” … or rather have “them” join you. If management wants technology that integrates with the business objectives of the organization, management must do the same thing. IT leaders must be brought into the business leadership culture. Then sent back to the IT culture as “Evangelists” (Evangelist is the term technical teams use to spread the message outside the IT culture) to convert the IT group.
It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened eventually. Now it’s a new century and Information technology is not rocket science. Yet in order to integrate, we should be following the paths of our engineering forefathers. Instead of waiting to be indoctrinated into the organizations leadership culture we need to press the point. We need to leverage our way into the culture. If you are introverted like I am that may seem like stepping out of your comfort zone. Yet if you like working on new projects and new technologies, you need to become and evangelist in the business organization. By understanding the vision and needs of the business, it’s much easier to sell technology projects and change to the organization.