In the world of technology we tend to use either really big words, really small words and/or acronyms.
What do you think of when you think of ‘the cloud’ what do you think of? Do you think about Amazon‘s EC2 or S3 or do you think about “Parallel and Distributed Processing”? Both could be right but neither are instructive to the ‘business’ user. For that matter, is “the cloud” instructive to the business? Probably not.
The New CIO & Language
There’s a lot of talk in the business world about finding IT leaders who can speak to the business. I agree wholeheartedly…but I also think the business needs to learn to speak to the IT world too….but I’ve covered that in detail in a post titled Information Technology Leadership and Alignment. Moving on.
To help align business and IT, The New CIO needs to first look at the language of IT. Get rid of the big words….and perhaps the small words if they aren’t clear enough. Look at your IT group’s language to make sure acronyms and tech-jargon are purged from the external facing documentation and communication. Take a long look at what you communicate to the organization and how you communicate to make sure you aren’t letting the tech-speak take over.
Want to really take it up a notch and make sure you’re communicating what the organization needs to hear? Bring in a marketer and a communications person to build an IT marketing and communication plan for your team. Your organization has marketing plans for how you’ll attack the market, why can’t you have one for how you’ll communicate to the rest of the organization?
Be careful though…you don’t want to get too far into business language or you’ll end up using the same marketing/business jargon that every other group within your organization uses. Keep it simple and real and you’ll be fine.
Next time the CEO asks you “what’s this cloud computing thing I keep hearing about?”, how will you respond? Big words or the right words?
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. Join me next week for another article in the series.
I just read a great post by Jeffrey Phillips titled Intense Ambiguity that really brought into light what it’s like working for a boss or organization that has no clear strategy and vision.
What does Intense Ambiquity mean? Jeffrey defines it as:
…significant pressure from the management team to do something – especially new and interesting things. However, there isn’t necessarily a corresponding amount of clarity about what those things should be. So, there’s a lot of pressure to get things done, just no one is really sure what kinds of things should be done.
Intense Ambiguity defines this situation perfectly.
How many readers out there have found themselves in the same situation? You work your butt off in reactive mode trying to do ‘something’ but there is no real vision or strategy to help define what that ‘something’ should be.
Jump over and read the rest of Jeffrey’s Intense Ambiguity post for more insight.
I was recently reading Dagmar Recklies’ article titled What Makes a Good Change Agent? and started thinking about some of the people that I know who are good at change…and some who completly destroy any opportunities for change.
In the article, 15 Competencies are listed that a good change agent should have. These competencies are:
15 Key Competencies of Change Agents
- Sensitivity to changes in key personnel, top management perceptions and market conditions, and to the way in which these impact the goals of the project.
- Setting of clearly defined, realistic goals.
- Flexibility in responding to changes without the control of the project manager, perhaps requiring major shifts in project goals and management style.
- Team-building abilities, to bring together key stakeholders and establish effective working groups, and to define and delegate respective responsibilities clearly.
- Networking skills in establishing and maintaining appropriate contacts within and outside the organization.
- Tolerance of ambiguity, to be able to function comfortably, patiently and effectively in an uncertain environment.
- Communication skills to transmit effectively to colleagues and subordinates the need for changes in the project goals and in individual tasks and responsibilities.
- Interpersonal skills, across the range, including selection, listening, collecting appropriate information, identifying the concerns of others, and managing meetings.
- Personal enthusiasm in expressing plans and ideas.
- Stimulating motivation and commitment in others involved.
- Selling plans and ideas to others by creating a desirable and challenging vision of the future.
- Negotiating with key players for resources, for changes in procedures, and to resolve conflict.
- Political awareness in identifying potential coalitions, and in balancing conflicting goals and perceptions.
- Influencing skills, to gain commitment to project plans and ideas form potential skeptics and resisters.
- Helicopter perspectives, to stand back from the immediate project and take a broader view of priorities.
Looks like a fairly good list.
Take a look at some of the main terms found in these competencies. You’ll see words like:
- Political Awareness
Great list…and one that many many people overlook when they are trying to bring change into an organization.
If you want to be a Change Agent, the first thing on your agenda should be to understand where the organization (and you) have been.
The second thing you need to do? Listen.
Why is listening so important? Because you can’t change what you don’t know or understand. The only way to learn and understand is to listen to the organization and the people within it. In order to create lasting and meaningful change, you’ve got to understand why things have been done before you suggest changing things.
For lasting change, take a look at the 15 competencies above and make them your competencies. Do this and the change you want might just be a bit easier to bring about.
Just finished reading “Moose on the Table“by Jim Clemmer.
Before I get into the review, let me define “moose on the table.” According to the author, it is a rephrasing of the old saying “the elephant in the room”…as in…the thing nobody wants to discuss (or can discuss, etc).
Jim Clemmer uses a fable to tell the story of an organization that is in need of leadership and change…but the ‘leader’ is brow-beater who only wants someone to agree with him. The story follows Pete Leonard as he works his way through some issues at work and at home. Pete attends a seminar and realizes that the way his boss is acting is forcing the organization down into the depths of failure and that he and the other folks need to make an effort to “face the moose”.
The author provides some concepts about how to deal with the moose on the table…some are novel and others aren’t but all are great ideas that can be implemented by anyone trying to approach solving a problem like a moose on the table.
The basic outcome of the story is this: When a problem rears up, communicate and solve the problem rather than rather than talk around it, place blame for the problem or go into ‘pity city’ (e.g., poor me, etc). Leadership and communication are key to solving the “moose on the table” problem.
This book is a good read and is short enough to finish quickly. The concept is a good one and the story is engaging. I’d recommend it to anyone out there who is dealing with a “moose on the table”.
NOTE: This book was provided by the publisher as an advanced review copy.