IT tends to be a very low priority for other managers in the business.
It feels like everyone expects IT to respond immediately, but when IT expects something in turn everyone is always way too busy.
This happens even when IT communicates clearly, engages 1-1 with other business leaders about their technology needs and of course delivers on all the many expectations others have of the IT function.
How then, does the IT leader get the airtime to move forward with IT's true agenda of generating more business value?
One of our IT Leader Mastermind groups recently tackled this question. Here is a summarised version of the outcomes.
The Mastermind Answer
It is important to first ascertain how important the specific topic is to the other party. Why would they respond?
IT leaders are by default VP1 (Value Proposition 1) leaders. As such it is often necessary to reframe the discussion to VP2 or higher – whatever is relevant to the other party.
Sometimes it is even better to take a step back and first build a relationship with that person. This would e.g. mean having a chat over coffee without attaching any outcomes to the session.
IT leaders need to realise that the jargon they use in everyday life is often intimidating for other people and that for many the easiest way to deal with this is to ignore the conversation.
Understand that this is a journey. It will take time to figure out how to create a compelling vision, so that others will want to engage. The results have time and again shown that it is worth every bit of effort to engage at this level.
Some More Insights
- Much of current business communication is done via Email. Email is a great collaboration tool. But beware of a few pitfalls:
- Email is very easy to send and the volume has just become so big that it becomes increasingly probable to miss important messages.
- People often only read emails in the Preview Pane. Make sure that the main points are conveyed in the first few sentences of the email.
- Don't add multiple, unrelated topics in one email. Rather send separate emails. People do respond quicker that way. If they see a long message they tend to defer it to later and it often gets buried in their inbox.
- Follow up. People rarely want to ignore their colleagues. It is more likely that they just forgot or did not get to it yet. But there is a fine line - don’t pester them.
- And a general question: How are the Outlook skills of your colleagues? Would it be of benefit to the organisation to organise training in basic technical skills, email etiquette and possibly even time management?
- “Talk is cheap”. People will much rather recognise anybody if they prove their value to the organisation in business terms. But it is imperative not to go overboard. Find a low-hanging fruit project. Get some results and subsequent engagements are just going to become so much easier. Read How to Kick-Start Digital Transformation Without CEO Support? for some pointers.
- Peter Drucker famously said “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”. In the same way, don't focus too much on the technology side and understand that any manager's biggest priority is to create a culture that appreciates the power of leveraging digital technologies.
- Overcoming Resistance to Change - Isn't It Obvious? – a video showing how people will react if their concerns, both positive and negative, are addressed. The “Pot of Gold” for the other person is where one should start the conversation.
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