Links for March 14 2010

Strategy Is Boring by Kneale Mann on One Mann’s Opinion

Are you stress testing your IT strategies? by Christina Torode on TotalCIO

Innovation and the Future by Jeffrey Phillips on Innovate on Purpose

IT Leaders: Building the Next-Generation Bosses By Thomas Hoffman on CIOInsight

Teaching Entrepreneurship – By Getting Out of the Building by Steve Blank

Strategy Basics: It’s Really all about having a Plan by Jaan Orvet & Andreas Carlsson on Carsonified » Blog

Learning to be genuine by John Moore on Random Thoughts of a Boston-based CTO: John Moore’s Weblog

Business and IT file for divorce citing irreconcilable differences by Mark McDonald on the Gartner Blog Network

Humanising the Enterprise for Greater Efficiency and Effectiveness by Ross Mayfield

Data: The New Capital of the Digital Age by Ted Morris on 4ScreenCRM

Smarten Up, and Feel the IT Love by Susan Cramm on HarvardBusiness.org

A war for talent or for dead wood? by Nic Paton on Management-Issues : News

Failure is a Success in Learning by Angela Maiers on Angela Maiers Educational Services

Links for August 30, 2009

Social Media and IT Security: Adversaries or Partners? by Steve Radick on Social Media Strategery

The T.S. Eliot Guide to Success by Mark McGuinness on Lateral Action

Passing the Buck and Ethics by Jeremy Pepper on POP! PR Jots

What will be disrupted next? by Jeffrey Phillips on Innovate on Purpose

Why Leaders Need Stories: A Lesson from Don Hewitt by John Baldoni on HarvardBusiness.org

Bitching about work means you like it the way it is by Dave Gray on Communication Nation

New Name For CIOs: Strategic Execution Officer by Dr. Jim Anderson on The Accidental Successful CIO

Learning From Failure by Arun Manansingh on A CIO’s Voice

The three Cs of IT failures by John Moore on Random Thoughts of a Boston-based CTO

Two ways to hire (and a wrong way) by Seth Godin on Seth’s Blog

Your Gut is More Ethical Than Your Brain by Jamie Notter on Get Me Jamie Notter

Putting Passion Before Profit by Beth Dunn on small dots

In Simplicity We Trust by Ron Ashkenas on HarvardBusiness.org

The Power of Continuous Improvement by Mike Speiser on GigaOM

Using Earned Value in a Changing Environment by Glen B. Alleman on Herding Cats

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Links for Aug 23, 2009

How to SWOT away Strategic Planning by Steve Neiderhauser

The Role of the CTO: Four Models for Success by Bob Gourley on CTOvision.com

A Tendency to Blame and an Inability to Confront by Charles H. Green on Trust Matters blog

Enterprise 2.0 Does Not Necessarily Mean Power To The People by G. Oliver Young on Strategic Heading

Communications Nimbleness – Kaleidescope Management by Lisa Haneberg on Management Craft

Authenticity: You Has It by Chris Guillebeau on The Art of Nonconformity

What if no one tells you that you’re wrong? by Christopher S. Penn on Christopher S. Penn’s Awaken Your Superhero

Shared Systems View: Bootstrapping Adaptive Capacity In Your Project by Bas de Baar on Project Shrink

IT, the CIO, and the business need for “roof projects” by Peter Kretzman on CTO/CIO perspectives

Fish Where the Fish Are by Tim Walker on Hoover’s Business Insight Zone

Cowardly Lion: Being Chief Means Facing Your Fears by Arun Manansingh on A CIO’s Voice

Surprise – Disrespecting Competitors Doesn’t Work! by Danny Brown

Four Tips for Building Accountability by Rosabeth Moss Kanter on HarvardBusiness.org

Blame the Road – Not the Person by John Hunter on Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog

5 Strategies that Won’t Fix Your Dysfunctional Team by Cheri Baker on The Enlightened Manager

Measurement, competition and the right person for the job by Mark Riffey on Business is Personal

The Bridge Between “Evolve” or “Die” by Amber Naslund on Altitude Branding

When Enterprise 2.0 Intranet Strategies Collide by Mark Fidelman on CloudAve

What’s So Scary About Marketing Strategy? by John Jantsch on Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

The Cloudy Future of Corporate IT by Andrew McAfee

What is participation in a Web 2.0 world? by Matthew Hodgson on The AppGap

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Keeping your IT staff Engaged and Happy – The New CIO Series

The New CIO is a weekly article about the challenges facing today’s CIO as well as what can be done to prepare for future challenges.

Today’s CIO is having a tough time. They’re being asked to do more with less.  Budgets are being slashed.  Projects are being canceled.  Tough times indeed.

What can the CIO do to make it through?  Well…many are working their staffs harder and longer.  Because, you know its time to do more with less, right?

Wrong.  Well…actually it is right…but Doing More with Less doesn’t mean you’ve got to cut your staff to the core, work them to death and ignore their personal development.

So what can The New CIO do to keep the IT staff happy, engaged and working hard?

First, understand the type of people that seek out careers in IT. Then understand what drives them.  Once you understand what drives them, give them the opportunity to work on those things that excite them.  Maybe your IT Operations guru really wants to be developer…find a way to make that happen. If your technical support lead wants to move into project management, find a way to let her work her way into a new role.

Keep focusing on personal development, listen to your team and lead your team. Do these things and you’ll have a happy & engaged IT staff who will work hard for you in good times and harder for you in the bad times.

Let’s take a look at what drives IT professionals (and perhaps many other non-IT folk).

Dreams

Many IT professionals are inquisitive and love the idea of their job.  They got into IT because they love technology and they love finding creative ways to solve problems.

Then…they get a job in ‘the real world’ where they are asked to ‘do more with less’ and worked harder then ever.  For the most part, these IT pro’s are happy working hard. They like their jobs.  They like a challenge so they do whatever it takes.  Until they realize that they aren’t appreciated.

The IT employee (and group) takes a beating from the organization when things go wrong.   The email server crashes?  You hear things like ‘those IT guys can’t do anything right’. People within the organization can’t understand why it takes so long to get anything done in IT.  They don’t realize that the IT staff is way understaffed and overworked…those things don’t cross their mind.

The IT Pro wants to do the best they can but for various reasons (overworked, stressed out, disengaged, etc) they can’t.

Disappointment

IT folk are a fickle lot.   When they feel under-appreciated (or not at all), they can get defensive and morose.  It doesn’t take long for a happy IT professional to be disappointed.

The dreams of the ‘fun’ they thought they’d have while doing what they love soon turns into a nightmare of disappointment.  They don’t feel as though they get to have any ‘fun’ because they’re so busy doing more with less.

The IT Pro is disappointed.  They are struggling to keep up with current technology.  They have to sneak some time to try to pick up new technology.  They buy books at the bookstore and try to learn new programming languages.  They try to keep up…but without a strong focus on personal development from IT leadership, the IT Pro is left alone to toil on their own.

Disengagement

Disappointment inevitably leads to Disengagement.

The IT professional has worked themselves till they are bone tired.  They don’t feel appreciated by the organization.  They feel overworked and underpaid (even though they make decent money). The IT professional has put their heart and soul into their job and, in their eyes, they’ve received nothing for their effort other than a big ol’ shiny turd landing on their desk.

Now…you’ve got a highly trained & extremely technical IT professional who’s heart isn’t in their work. They don’t feel loved.     They feel overlooked, overworked and tired.  They are on the verge of disengaging from their job…and that isn’t good.

What can The New CIO do to make a difference?

First, understand your staff.  Understand what drives them and what excites them.  Then, let them spend some time doing just that.  Push personal development & training as a top priority. Follow Google’s example of letting their folks work on personal projects for a percentage of the time.  Let your team pick up new technologies and see what they can do.  Don’t be afraid to sniff around the open source world for your next big platform or project.   If you’ve got to cut costs and projects, look at the open source world as a way to cut platform costs and let your team loose on the challenge of integrating open source into the enterprise.

Second, communicate, communicate, communicate. Oh…and don’t stop communicating. Communicate to the top of the pyramid and communicate even more to the individual contributors.    Talk about what’s being worked now and what’s being planned.  Talk about the successes and failures. Discuss your plans for the short- and long-term.  In other words…talk to your team and the organization constantly. Tell them what you are thinking…be open and honest and you’ll get some great feedback…if you listen.

On that note, the Third thing The New CIO has to do is Listen.   I capitalized that on purpose BTW.  Listening is a skill that must live within The New CIO.  You’ve got to listen to your team’s needs and to the organization’s needs.   Work on your listening skills and not just the skill to hear what people are saying…you’ve got to listen intently to what your team members & the organization are not saying.  You’ve got to understand the real issues at hand…not just what comes out of someone’s mouth.

Fourth, The New CIO must understand the businessTruly understand the business.  What does this have to do with keeping your team engaged?  Lots.  It’s hard to provide technology for an organization if you don’t understand what the organization does.  Understanding the business, and communicating that understanding to your team, will help you craft your vision and strategy for technology services.   By understanding the business and building the information technology strategy for the organization, you and your team will have a full understanding of why things are being done and where you are headed.

Lastly, The New CIO has to lead. Leadership is a key factor for keeping your team engaged. There’s nothing worse than a CIO (or any manager) who can’t make a decision and/or back their team up.  Leadership is more than ‘being in charge’…it means standing up for your staff when things are tough.  It also means that The New CIO is the person in the organization leading the charge to find better, cheaper and faster ways to get things done.

Conclusion

The New CIO has a lot on their plate.  In addition to the old standards of running technology teams, setting strategy and keeping the lights on, The New CIO has to focus on the softer skills.  Selecting the right people and keeping those people engaged in their work is a difficult job but must be at the top of the list of priorities for The New CIO.

The mantra today is ‘do more with less’…..don’t let that creep into your mind when it comes to your people.  Keep developing them, keep them happy and you’ll be amazed at how much an engaged IT team can do even in the tough times.  Keeping them engaged during the times of ‘less’ will provide an amazing advantage when the ‘good’ times come back around…you keep your team happy today and watch the exponential increase in output when the budgets come back.

Join me next Thursday for a new edition of The New CIO where I’ll be talking about the chasm between Strategy & Tactics and what we can do to close the gap.

The New CIO – a new weekly series

I’ve been thinking about writing a weekly article and finally found a topic that I think lends itself well to this approach.

I’m planning on writing about ‘The New CIO” and covering topics that CIO’s today (and tomorrow) need to be thinking about, planning for, and doing to meet the needs of the organization in the coming months and years.

The New CIO not only has to focus on technology issues but must also focus on business strategy and marketing.  All areas of the business using technology extensively these days…and with Social Media getting bigger and bigger, The New CIO has to figure out how to allow the business to move into the bold new world of transparency while also providing security and usefulness.

I’m working on the first real “The New CIO” article to be published later this week…look for more.  If you have any ideas that you think need to be covered in this new series, or if you’d like to write an artcile yourself, let me know!

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