On Unleashing The Power Of IT

I just finished reading the book Unleashing The Power Of IT – Bringing People, Business, and Technology Together by my colleague Dan Roberts at Ouellette and Associates. Dan had generously and graciously offered me a copy of this book.

Below are key excerpts from the books that I found to be particularly insightful:

1) “But still, I firmly believe that IT organizations can be well positioned to compete as their companies’ value-added provider of choice—if and only //they’re ready to take a hard look at themselves and make some changes, both in regard to how they approach their work and the personal skill set they consider essential to tackling the demands of an ever-changing business environment. The bottom line is that the IT professional of the past won’t cut it in today’s corporate world.”

2) “Five Critical Success Factors That Enable IT Organizational Excellence…Leadership: Positively Influence and Inspire Others…Strategy: Establish the Right Game Plan for Your Organization…People: Hire and Professionally Develop Your Winning Team…Best Practices: Select and Customize Them to Fit Your Organization…Execution: Translate Your Strategy, Goals, and Initiatives into Specific Action Plans That Deliver Measurable Results.”

3) “In summary, leaders need to do the following in hiring and professional development: -Instill leadership competencies and behaviors. -Select people with the right skills and experiences that align with the position qualifications to execute the technology strategy. -Build leadership bench strength. -Embrace performance measurement and best practice methodologies that shape behaviors into desired results. -Learn how to select the right employees the first time. -Identify professional development programs that deliver sustainable results through phased-in learning, accountability mechanisms, and coaching. -Recognize that employee interpersonal competency and skill development is mandatory.”

4) “The Commitment Component of Change: ♦ Compliance vs. Commitment ♦ Changing Minds ♦ Understanding Resistance ♦ Emotional Cycles of Change…The Community Component of Change: ♦ Change Leadership ♦ Key Roles in the Change Process ♦ Transition Structures ♦ Network of Resources…The Clarity Component of Change ♦ Case for Change ♦ Urgency for Change ♦Capacity for Change ♦ Readiness Assessment ♦ Impact of Change…The Communication Component of Change: ♦ Mission and Vision ♦ Rich, Detailed Pictures ♦ Levels and Outcomes ♦ Build Your Tool Kit ♦ Communication Plan”

5) “Whether or not your staff believes it, the best way to build client loyalty is not by proving IT’s technology prowess but by building a service strategy that enables internal IT to be seen as a top provider of service. In fact, a well-developed and well-communicated service strategy is critical in today’s IT organizations. Clients demand service to be immediate and proactive, and if they don’t get it internally, they’ll find it elsewhere, by hiring either their own staff or external vendors. Indeed, good service is no longer just something that’s nice to have; it’s the make-or-break factor that determines whether clients choose internal IT or someone else to deliver the solutions they need.”

6) “IT leaders need to help all members of the IT staff develop a new mind-set 50 foster the transition of their organizations into a service-oriented culture. Here are three skills I teach in my workshops to evolve the participants’ mind-set toward a service-oriented culture. Developing a “We” Mentality…Learning to Love Complaints…1. Thank the client for making the complaint…2. Gather more information…3. Apologize for the circumstances…4. Ask how you can help…Making Every Interaction Count.”

7) “If you map out all the moments of truth that clients experience with the IT organization and assess what their experience is like through those interactions, you’ll have a good idea of your organization’s level of service and where it needs to improve. This can range from voice tone and body language to a grander scale, like revamping all your forms or streamlining your web site interface.”

8) “The big secret to managing expectations is the ability to understand what the client’s expectation is in the first place. That might sound really obvious, but IT organizations are often afraid to ask this question because they are concerned they won’t meet it. However, it’s impossible to meet an expectation that’s unknown. After understanding the client’s expectations, the next step is to stop focusing on what you can’t do and gear your mind to what you can do…There seems to be an awkwardness (almost an embarrassment) when IT manages expectations. However, I like to remind people I work with that clients are very used to this behavior from external vendors.”

9) “Here are the general characteristics that clients expect to see in a consultant: ■ Confidence in his or her own capabilities without arrogance ■ Enthusiasm and complete engagement during the project ■ Accessibility and responsiveness ■Knowledge about the client’s line of business and a willingness to learn more ■ Dedication to the client’s best interests”

10) “The more empathetic you are, the more you demonstrate to the client that you understand his or her reality. That creates the confidence that you’ll be able to work through future issues constructively…But being an effective consultant isn’t about the right answer. If other’s can’t hear what you have to say because of how you deliver the message. you have lost your ability to influence. Delivery is everything. If I have an important point to make, the other person is much more likely to hear me if I have been equally interested in his or her perspective. How I demonstrate that respect is empathy. In most conversations, that can be a simple paraphrase or acknowledgment of the other person’s idea first, before I add my two cents.”

11) “It’s my belief that to succeed in the IT profession today, all of IT—including IT leaders and the people who report to them—must get past their aversion to negotiating and learn how to manage the conflict that’s an inevitable part of their everyday lives. The good news is that good negotiators aren’t born; they’re taught. In fact, for a long time, I’ve strongly believed that IT professionals could do a better job negotiating if they learned about interest negotiations rather than better job negotiating if they learned about interest negotiations rather than using position negotiations.”

12) “Positions limit negotiations because there’s not a lot to negotiate over, and they create linear situations, with the participants starting at extreme endpoints and then moving along the continuum to some point at which both agree to agree…By talking about interests, the scope of potential negotiating possibilities increases dramatically. The two of them now can generate a list of options based on the different interests they have just stated…That’s because interests define each party’s real needs, wants, or concern. Interests are broader than and can be very different from stated positions. When you understand your own interests as well as those of the other party, you can spend your time developing possible options, not fighting over small concessions about one item.”

13) “Becoming politically savvy doesn’t come naturally. IT leaders need to develop skills—both personally and among their staffs—that will increase political awareness and make the IT organization successful at navigating through politically churned-up waters. Here are some of the key skills required. Creativity…Interpersonal…Effectiveness…Communication…Focus…Interests…Flexibility…Trust …Support…Conflict Management.”

14) “I purposely use the word lead rather than manage or control. Leadership extends both the client’s and the project manager’s sphere of influence beyond the mere administration of a project. Leadership by the client enables the project’s objective. It raises the stakes, legitimizes the need, and changes the effort from a game to a cause. One of the most powerful motivators for IT professionals is the opportunity to make a real difference in the business. It’s truly regrettable that so few business clients take advantage of this powerful secret to project success. Leadership by the project manager emboldens the actions of the team. Project teams thrive on being allowed (or empowered) to be creative, to experience the excitement of discovery, to enjoy a sense of real accomplishment, and to have fun while doing great things. A good project manager can lead a project team to places it could never be driven to…One final point about motivation: It is not something a project manager does to the team members. Rather, it’s something the team members do for themselves. Motivation is a door that is locked from the inside. The best a project manager can do is create a climate that enables and encourages good work. The vast majority of IT professionals I’ve met in my career want to do a good job. It’s truly unfortunate that too many of them are forced into situations that discourage, inhibit, and occasionally even penalize their best efforts. The key is to manipulate the environment, not the people.”

15) “You’ll know you have a high-performance, gelled team when you see the following characteristics: A shared elevating vision or goal A strong sense of team identity ■ Mutual trust ■ The interdependence of team members ■ Open and effective communication ■ A sense of autonomy ■ Low turrnover ■ Joint ownership of the product ■ A high level of obvious enjoyment”

16) “There are three primary reasons that companies look outside the internal IT organization for technology services: cost control, the desire to focus on core competencies, and supply-demand fluctuation. Very often, however, when I ask clients why they’re outsourcing, they don’t know what the goals are. And even when they do know, they’re not using metrics that tell them whether they’re meeting those goals. The vast majority of people I encounter say they’re outsourcing to control costs, yet only about half use cost as a metric. So it’s important to understand why you’re outsourcing, in the context of the corporate strategy.”

17) “The formulation of the IT organization’s image as the service provider of choice k one of the most important factors for a successful IT cultural transformation…For all these reasons, IT needs to market internally; to increase its credibility, build partnerships, and turn around any negative perceptions. This marketing is not about hype and empty promises; it’s about creating an awareness of IT’s value. It’s about changing client perceptions by presenting a clear, consistent message about the value of IT. After all, if you don’t market yourself, someone else will, and you might not like the image you end up with…So the first step is marketing to the IT organization that marketing is a good thing. This can be done in a number of ways, but the most effective is to let your IT staff know how important this is to your success and help the staff feel accountable for marketing. To elicit positive marketing behaviors from the entire IT team, IT leaders need to tie the marketing mind-set to measurements that provide incentive and reward.”

18) “How do you know when you’ve succeeded with your marketing efforts? What are the indicators of a good marketing plan? The first is to define up front what will determine success rather than waiting until the end. You need to know before you begin what you want to happen as a result of your efforts. Other indicators are the following: Your clients are requesting that IT be more involved in their business such as inviting you to business planning and strategy meetings or having you review and influence their technology decisions. ■ Your budget requests are being met without your having to constantly justify your existence and contributions. ■ Your current clients are referring others to you, or you can imagine your clients saying, “Hey, IT really helped us out,” rather than “Oh, those IT people!” ■ Requests for your assistance are becoming more focused and more in line with the products and services you actually provide. ■ You are getting unsolicited positive feedback, both formal and informal, from your clients and senior management. ■ Morale in the IT department is high. ■ IT is being included in merger and acquisition negotiations and due diligence. ■ IT is being included in meetings and sales processes with big C-level clients.”

19) “”Trust,” Davis proclaimed, “is something you receive for meeting or exceeding client expectations while being empathetic and understanding to institutional, departmental, and individual desires.””

20) “The 12 Core Competencies: 1) Influencing Others 2) Enabling Change 3) Leadership 4) Strategic Focus 5) Communication 6) Collaboration 7) Organizational Understanding 8) Problem Solving 9) Business Acumen 10) Project Management 11) Technical Understanding 12) Client Orientation ”


Omar Halabieh


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