Leading an IT organisation through a successful transformation can be quite a challenge. Once you've adapted your mindset to prepare for the transition, there are five organisational challenges that you'll want to work through to reposition your business for success.
1. Employ outstanding leaders
Exceptional leaders have dedicated people who willingly follow them. They have put in the dedicated effort to sharpen their interpersonal skills and learn to influence others. They have developed the capacity to build trusted partner relationships which enhance their ability to produce results through others and they have built a level of resiliency that allows for increased energy and effectiveness under pressure.
2. Create a clear strategy
A well-constructed and thorough road map that demonstrates how you will get from where you are today to where you want to be is the first step to laying the foundation for IT success.
It is essential for increasing profitability, competitive advantage, reducing expenses, maximising productivity, improving customer service, protecting data and in having your people reach their maximum potential. Without a clear plan, there may be a lot of work getting done, but all it will amount to is just 'spinning your tyres' and not getting anywhere.
In communicating the strategy throughout the organisation, you must also find a balance; it shouldn't be vague and nebulous but it also should not be a 500 page document. Ideally it is less than 12 pages.
It is also a living and breathing document. A common mistake is to think 'We've already done our strategy.' You'll want to revisit it every three to six months and make any necessary adjustments or course corrections.
3. Find and develop the right people
Leaders do not operate alone. If you said you were a leader, but had no one willingly following you, would you really be a leader? Our people and our leaders are the lifeblood of our success. You must learn to select, coach, develop, and optimise your staff.
Avoid a quick hiring decision based solely on 'feel' and ensure you have an appropriate selection/interview process that allows you to have a match on capabilities, attitude and cultural fit. How many times has a candidate looked good on a first interview but by the third they were clearly not a fit?
A solid performance management system build around the four steps of setting clear expectations, ongoing feedback, formal appraisals, and ongoing development (including training) will allow you to drive performance, maintain accountability and support the growth of your people in realising their full potential.
Finally, when looking at developing your winning team, you must build it as one IT organisation that shares a common goal, vision and purpose. Silos within IT must be eliminated.
4. Customise best practices to your organisation
Why reinvent the wheel when there are time-tested and established approaches to achieving great results every time? Become familiar with the best practices in your area, select the ones which are right for your organisation.
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But don't stop there -- take the next step and customise them to your structure, culture, complexity, strategy, goals and business drivers. Select the ones that match the issues and challenges you are trying to solve, not just the ones that are the latest buzz or hype.
But be careful to avoid the pitfalls of best practices such as creating complex or cumbersome processes. Don't turn today's best practice into tomorrow's bureaucracy! Keep asking why and encouraging innovation and creativity.
Executive your plans
This is where the real challenge begins. All the previous work that is done won't amount to anything if we drop the ball at this stage. A common mistake is to completely underestimate what it will to take to reach the goal.
An organisation transformation initiative must be run just as any other project. Have a project manager, teams, plans, reporting mechanisms and measure results. You need structure and you need people who are committed to driving the changes into the organisation's culture.
This is about planning the work, empowering your people, balancing strategy with tactics, capturing KPIs, tracking performance progress, adjusting to changing conditions, and applying learned lessons into future strategy and execution.
The key is results, not activity.
Lou Markstrom is the co-author of Unleashing the Power of IT: Bringing People, Business, and Technology Together, published by Wiley as part of its CIO series. Lou is currently the practice leader for IT culture and talent Development at DDLS.