Leadership

Video: Three reasons why the voice of IT gets ignored

When the voices of IT leaders get ignored, it leads to failed projects and technology problems. Learn three ways CIOs can communicate effectively and establish themselves as the authority in the IT decision-making process.

IT leaders sometimes feel like their voice gets ignored, which leads to failed projects and technology problems that IT ultimately gets blamed for. This episode of Sanity Savers for IT executives looks at three ways you can communicate effectively with your fellow company leaders and establish yourself as the authority in the IT decision-making process.

For those of you who prefer text to video, you can click the "Transcript" link underneath the video or you can read the original white paper from Ilya Bogorad that this episode was based on: Talking business: Three reasons why your opinion is being ignored.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

76 comments
SkyStrike2001
SkyStrike2001

Well, in my company, practically any new projects that involves cost is thrown out of the window.

blarman
blarman

IT would be in on the decision-making process, starting with problem identification. EVERYTHING in today's world involves IT in some fashion, and good business leaders should make it a priority to have IT involved in ANY meeting involving strategy, if for no other reason than to keep them informed of where they MAY be going. And in this perfect world, business leaders should identify the problem, then work with IT to come up with a list of potential solutions. This will allow the business people to assign cost/benefit and identify cost-saving features which they might be better able to identify and allow IT to examine the inner workings for compatibility and integration. In the end, neither side can function effectively without the other. The sooner both sides learn to cooperate, the more positive achievements the business can make.

dbecker
dbecker

Jason, your three reasons seem to be based on the unprovable idea that Management is sane and reasonable. Objective data seems to contraindicate this position. Just remember the first rule of communication: Never knowingly argue with a crazy person. And if they aren't crazy it's very likely they are liars. You know that it's useless to deal with them too. If you are waiting for sanity in management these days, you are in for a very long wait. If you are waiting for that good manager who has avoided moral bankruptcy, you might as well give up now. If you are anticipating charging in and pushing reason at those with distorted perceptions, make certain that your medical covers mental breakdowns. Except for very rare instances, all efforts to overcome the problems cited here are futile. To quote Mr. Spock from the latest Star Trek movie: "Good luck!".

phportelance
phportelance

This may not be what the business side wants to hear but alot of IT people take pride in the work they do. It has been my experience that business people are the most happy when the company is making money and they are minimizing change and the work that has to be done. This may save the bottomline but does not help in the future when things need to be changed. I myself take great pride in solving issues and taking the next step to make sure it does not happen again or I am ready when it does. It is easy to stop when things are back on track but more rewarding to go further and keep taking the next step. Reading through all 48 posts, it occurs to me how much most IT professionals care about what they do and how frustrated they are with business decisions. I do not find business people find any value in the pride that myself and other IT professionals display. If it is not working they want me to fix it and they show a little excitment when it is fixed. The next time something happens, it is forgotten and the question is why this new problem is not working as 'business usual'. I do not think working in IT is the kind of field you can ignore things and sometimes especially little things like a business person might. So for most of us, it is all interconnected. How can the IT voice be heard when the business person is not seeing it this way.

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

I love it when IT is ignored. I have been around in enough companies when they have shot themselves in the foot by not listening to IT. I love rubbing their faces in it and crow about it from the roof tops, just before I move to a new company.

Marty R. Milette
Marty R. Milette

...the IT tail ends up trying to wag the business dog. I've seen quite a few 'arrogant' IT directors and managers who think they know best what the buusiness 'needs' (without bothering to find out). Some, want to stay with the status quo -- because it means the least amount of work -- simple maintenance -- while ignoring tools and technologies the business could leverage to great advantage. Others, want to implement the 'latest and greatest' without any regard to how to acutally get there and no demonstrable concern over the cost. (Guess they never heard of doing up a 'business case'.) In some cases, IT 'Nazis' basically tell the business exactly what they are going to provide -- and tough beans if the business doesn't like it. IMHO, the business may not necessarily be able to describe the exact tools and technologies they should have, but they ARE quite capable of describing the RESULTS that they'd like to see -- (if only they were ever asked).

settle.g
settle.g

The results question is a really good one and should never be forgotten. Too often we, as developers, think of the road, the development process, instead of the destination, the goal. Asking the question really puts a spotlight on the project. Vague goals and expectations are poison to IT.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

They went bust in less than a year and that was ten years ago. In my experience, it's more like business pickking up the dog, shaking it violently and saying stop wagging your tail, it's irritating.

Marty R. Milette
Marty R. Milette

...for a UK government department. IT department implemented a MOSS (SharePoint) system very, very badly. Typical case of someone who knows absolutely nothing about the product thinking you can click Next, Next, Next and all will be well. It wasn't. Project was a technical disaster. Unstable, unreliable, unpatched, no service packs, never maintained, unreliable back-ups -- you name it. When I left last week, the guy next to me was tasked with manually checking the sites every hour on the hour to see if they were still working. A bloody poor use of a technical resource. (Aparently, monitoring software was 'too difficult' to install...) So the organization (business) decided to try again, this time bringing in a qualified consultant to do the system architecture and design (me). The build wasn't to be done until Microsoft Consulting Services formally reviewed and approved the design. Everything was to be done 'by the book' and in accordance with best practices to ensure fully supported environment as quality-assured by Microsoft. Then, once everything was ticking along like a swiss watch - it would be handed over to IT to support. (Along with about 300 pages of documentation explaining everyting -- from how to build it -- to how to operate and maintain it.) I started the project in September, had full specifications done and ready to order the kit in December. IT dragged and dragged their heels and tried to sabbotage the design in every way possible -- everything from refusing to allow hardware network load balancing devices, to changing the network security and routing designs on the fly and without ANY documentation or change management. Like the case where I left at the end of one day with all servers 100% functional and operating without even a single error or warning in the logs -- to come in the next day with the servers crashed, logs full of errors thanks to an undocumented and unannounced change made by the IT department. Even something as mindless as ordering and installing a few racks of servers took them over FOUR MONTHS -- while ?100K/month of people are stuck waiting for them to get their stuff together. Then, they started to play real games -- such as when Microsoft said that in order to cluster SQL Servers in a virtualized environment, the guest OS must be Windows Server 2008. No problem from my side, but IT decided that they didn't want to support Windows 2008 -- so the project stopped for another week until they finally came around. Even Microsoft FAST search engine and Smartlogic products were fought tooth and nail -- because they included technologies the IT department didn't want to support such as Apache, Postgress and MySQL. Here again, the business had researched products they wanted to use -- selecting the best possible ones after SERIOUS analysis and alignment with business needs -- but the IT department threw spanner after spanner in the works. Of course, this is a government department we are talking about -- so nobody gets fired and money is no object. Rack it up to yet another of the UK's greatest IT project failures most likely.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Keep an eye on the wording of the contract, take your money, and leave them with a fresh coating of egg on their face. They are f'ing useless.

No User
No User

realized that it was just a dream and everything was back to reality. Business views IT as a separate entity. God all mighty I wish I could work for a company where IT dictated to the SBT's how to run the business. It's one thing to be arrogant but to rise to the level of IT Nazis that is just one notch shy of being God. ;) Would you PLEASE list a couple of those companies I would very much love to work for one of them. I'm being completely real no BS. That sounds like a story that came from an SBT executive that ate Welsh Rabbit and had a Cold Sweat Nightmare of being in a world where SBT's traded places with IT folks. Or perhaps a nightmare where they thought they were a CIO instead of a CEO but treated people the same as a CEO while wearing the CIO hat.

ibogorad
ibogorad

Never ever let them tell you which system to implement.

MyopicOne
MyopicOne

Not being catty, but you have obviously been remarkably lucky in where you have worked in that management has listened. Oh wait, you're a consultant - that's why. You couldn't POSSIBLY be telling management what their own staff has been telling them for years (and being ignored)... Good for you though - seriously - keep making lots of money from stupid management... The rest (most, by far) of us work in places where new software procurement is announced when a VP walks up to the Help Desk, puts a box on the desk, says "install this" and walks away. True story... Or where the PMO office's project cost tracking ends at go-live but fails to account for an additional seven dedicated months of a very highly skilled DBA finishing and fixing everything that did not complete during the normal, poorly scoped and resourced one year project timeline. And then refuse to change their cost tracking methodology. Also true... You are right in pointing out it's not all on the business side, though. My old IT department management couldn't properly scope, resource and schedule a project to grab their butt cheeks with both hands and would then wonder (internally) and lie (externally) about why projects failed. Then outsource, laying off the folks providing the free overtime and be surprised - surprised! - at how much it actually costs to run the department when they actually have to PAY hourly rates to the outsourcing firms for everything they do. LOL! In many places IT IS it's own worst enemy, but in as many the business simply sets IT up for failure and holds IT accountable for their mistakes.

wlportwashington
wlportwashington

Jason, You forgot the most important reason and that was pointed out to me by one of the attorneys here with his snot attitude: "You are I.T., you are service. Now go away unless I call you"." It is so true. Top execs think of us as a service like a automotive technician. They have no use for us until something breaks.

ibogorad
ibogorad

If you are ok with being held on par with facilities management, this is your choice. It does not have to be this way, as many organizations around the world prove on a daily basis.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Wow, well I never. I wonder why management never mentioned that.... oh greetings from earth...

wlportwashington
wlportwashington

This maybe one of the roots of the problem as to why a lot of us are looked at as a service. Since Slick Willy signed NAFTA we have seen our jobs offshored to lower paying countries. The last administration only compounded that by offering tax incentives to companies thart sent jobs to these places. Since that has happend, why should managment look upon the IT Department as an important part of the comany when all they need to do is call some offshored firm to supply them with tech support over the internet. For those onsite repairs, computers are now a disposable commodity. For anything else managment can hire a kid for $20K to $30 a year.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Because I never noticed this reponse http://techrepublic.com.com/5218-12848-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=264942&messageID=2516096 WRONG, utterly and appallingly WRONG! Leaving aside the hilarious get it right first time drivel, 60-80% of maintenance and enhancement time in an existing code base is comprehension... Readability and adherrence to standards in a team based environment, particulary with rotation to avoid key man dependency and or turnover of personel is fundamental to reducing the cost and risk of change. And change is what we do. That's not even counting code rot, 'temporary' fixes when under pressure, evolving standards, changing requirements, acquisition of other code bases, cheap inexperienced developers, your personel becoming more domain literate, more technically literate, or simply evolving their approach based on the environment. I do tax preparation software by the way, it's a very different environment, certainly I had to change my approach again. In business terms you are advising a constant and always increasing overhead correcting the symptoms of a process failure, with it's comcommitant reduction of limited resources to add value and gain revenue as opposed to a one off cost to correct the problem. And you actually have the gall to tell us how to sell IT to the business. I suggest you get hold of this book and have a read http://www.pragprog.com/the-pragmatic-programmer Section One Fight Sofware Rot, might alleviate your appalling ignorance. The only reason you are getting paid is your audience is as IT illiterate as yourself.

ibogorad
ibogorad

Marty, I may be operating at a higher level that the majority of those who tell me that the world has conspired against the good IT folk, which is why I can and do influence how IT organizations are shaped. I invite you to read this, from a year ago, to answer your point about outsourcing: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/tech-manager/?p=514

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

with why you say companies are outsourcing. Either way for many IT workers still fortunate enough to have a role, exercising their choice to leave based on something as trivial as their manager being a c**t is not a sensible course of action.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

They are so enthralled at a techie actually talking business, they lose track of what we are saying...

Marty R. Milette
Marty R. Milette

...by many companies to outsource ALL IT-related operations and treat them ENTIRELY as a service. I recently investigated a job in Russia working for a Finnish organization, and they said I was way overqualified -- they just wanted someone near to the site to do as they were told and push the buttons as directed. The 'brains' would be in Finland. There would be NO IT department on site whatsoever. This is becoming more and more common -- at least in Europe. Many businesses have become fed up with the 'employee mentality' where soon enough is good enough -- and have switched to an SLA (service level agreement) based model where there are strict performance requirements and penalties. This isn't new. If IT isn't a 'core competency' of the company, in fact, it is quite common.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

but business refuses to talk techie. That is a problem as well. Why should all the effort be on one side?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

My job is to explain things to a digital moron. You think I can't manage an analogue one? Every day, I have to find a different way to explain something. I however have to do something extra. I have to make sure I've been understood, it's a key part of communicating. My computer doesn't tell me it does when it doesn't. It's a necessity for techs, not a by default unselected option. I can talk business, I may even make business sense , given someone has bothered to explain the current conditions to me. I can't get a long term plan past someone who isn't here for the long term though. Not when I have, to make business sense use the terms cost and risk and ready after your planned promotion.... How long has the alignment, techies must learn to talk business drivel been going on. It may be new to you but I've been hearing it and doing it for at least a decade, probably longer, seeing as it's blatantly obvious. So why have you got a job still, why are you still earning pushing out the same message to the same people. It's so if a manager gets promoted, and then some one says you left your last job a a bit of a mess then they can say IT was them. You are telling them what they want to hear, of course you are a continuing success. I mean it's like a bonus handjob isn't, why would you say no? Some of us however don't have as much custom as yourself, and are somewhat more contrained in their options. Get another job, you read the paper lately, some business types took a short term technically stupid lucrative option and f'ed that up good and proper. Try and get out more.

ibogorad
ibogorad

One choice being working some place else. Another choice is accepting things the way they are because it suites everyone just dandy. Yet another choice is to create change. Tricky if you care more than your management, but at any level it is possible to start positive motion through grassroots changes in the way you go about your daily business. I consulted in one organizations where the management has given up on project management, it just never seemed to stick. Well, grassroots community of interest, a couple of years goes by, and I am happy to report that they are doing great. Don't get into this victimhood, I am sure you are better than that.

phportelance
phportelance

There is always a better way if a team of people are working towards the same goal. Does this happen every time you step into an IT job where the business counts on IT to make the business viable? No, it does not and this is the situation many IT people face when working with business people. They talk about teamwork and maybe even mean it except when it comes to the bottomline. Pointing this out as so many IT professionals have in this blog indicate there is a real problem that should not be ignored. All the fix it methods and tools in the world are not going to work if the people making the decisions are not prepared to change. To dismiss this feedback as whinning is only ignoring the problem further. Business people need to understand what it takes to make the IT part of business work. Struggle is a part of an IT persons everyday life when they are given mixed messages but still somehow come up with solutions that continue to help businesses grow. It would be nice to see IT people recognized for these solutions the same way business people recognize coworkers that bring new business to a company. Both the new business and keeping the business should be considered equally important.

cln
cln

What about the author's first point under "Business Knowledge." If we haven't forced business to understand IT up until now, perhaps it's IT that needs to change!

hauskins
hauskins

that the most successful companies tend to be IT companies. That is selling IT services and products. Maybe business that are not IT businesses should simply find their IT solutions in other companies that are IT service (product) based.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

You are on the money. Your comment may be tongue-in-cheek, but I've mulled on this for many a day. The only companies that know jack and squat about IT are companies whose business is IT. With cloud computing, web 2.0 ect, IT will have to become a service with large IT-only firms handling the back-end. If we can't have a seat at the board room table, then fine. Outsource IT. If IT is just a tool to be used on-demand, then fine. Pay a monthly subscription fee and you can have all the on-demand help you need. If we are going to be locked out of the technology decision-making process, then fine. Choose an application amongst your ignorant selves and call us to install it (for a fee). No more 24/7 on call shifts without compensation. No more calls for last minute implementations. IT professionals will finally work for a company where they are no longer a cost center but THE reveue source. Only then will "IT business alignment" be a redundancy, for IT is the business. This direction in IT is a certainty.

No User
No User

I think that I may be fighting in the wrong battle. Instead of trying to force our way to the room with the big table and be treated as an equal part of the business. We should push for a law that bans IT professionals from working for any company other then a pure IT company. Force them to outsource all IT operations bare none. They can call IT a service and IT pros service providers and we will laugh all the way to bank. We will spend our time dreaming up new ways to invent charges for that service!!!! If we can't Join them then Bill them!!!! I guarantee we will soon find out who the Victims are and they will discover that IT "is" part of the business after all but to late to compensate!!!

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

This benefits both sides of the table in my opinion.

dbecker
dbecker

From my book, "Assertive Incompetence": "Fools only listen to what they want to hear." Let's face it: First of all, generally speaking IT is a cost center -- not viewed as a generator of revenue. For that reason, IT is viewed being weak orphaned children looking for a handout, not as contributing to the bottom line. Downsizing and outsourcing on the promises of cost cutting makes sense to the bean-counter mentality. In order for IT to get anywhere, they have to sell a "VISION" -- in other words, a fantasy, which has universal appeal. Generally, "the VISION" is undeliverable. To compensate, when "the VISION" is about to be discovered as a complete fraud and waste, the wiley IT Director creates a newer, more appealing, scaled up fantasy to supplant the original "VISION", thus emptying corporate or agency coffers to keep the IT empire thriving [for no particularly good reason than to continue its pathetic existence]. This is win-win. Any other scenario, these days, is pretty much lose-lose-lose. The world belongs to the business psychopath snake in a suit. The reason for this is that times have changed. Business leaders are morally bankrupt. There is no discernable turn-about on the radar for the foreseeable future. Enron, Global Crossings and others were the vanguard. The Washington Mutuals of the world continue to proliferate. The bailout money to save jobs is used to outsource workers off-shore... and so forth. IT has to come to the point where they recognize that they have little more say in the corporation / agency than an entity providing telephones. If you genuinely care about the quality and contribution of IT, it's time to find another career or retire, because as sure as death, hell, taxes, revenge and the fury of a woman scorned, IT will continue to be trivialized to an objectified utility. That having been said, it is interesting to hearken back to the age of Grace Hopper: The original vision was to have the corporate executives use COBOL to generate their own code to support what they wanted to do. OK, so COBOL isn't going to be the utility of choice for the nim null corporate types, but cloud computing, spreadsheets and personal databases [some of which tools are available for the corporate cell phone and Blackberry] are there for use. Eliminate IT. It's not needed any longer. Let the corporate execs get along without it. They have tools they can use to get the job done. Just don't expect payroll to run next week.

ibogorad
ibogorad

Thanks, Jason, for making my article into a video. Very well articulated. What interests me is the comments, because they confirm they demonstrate so well the victimhood mentality that many IT departments have developed. Coming from entry level employees, that's quite ok. I would be very concerned about senior IT staff falling into this trap. Look, I face and fix these issues all the time as a part of my consulting work. If you feel like whining how it is impossible or that the message is trite, by all means, do it. But please understand that there is a better way.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

You fix these issues all the time, so why don't they stay fixed then? Tell me why is I can't understand IT They never do what I said I thought I wanted It costs more than I want to pay Valuable constructive criticism, but any IT person saying anywhere why don't you listen for once whining? Your paying audience perhaps. Got to say, massive communication failure on your part, perhaps you should try talking to instead of at..... Just a thought, you came across as whining you see. Very unpleasant...

No User
No User

And that "IS" exactly what "ALL" senior staff not just senior IT staff are required to do. The only whining I see is coming from you "NOT" being able to deal with constructive criticism which is what most if not all of these post have to offer. The only thing wrong with these posts is your attempt to silence constructive criticism. More to the point your denying reality. When folks deal with reality and in doing so follow the right path that sure puts a damper on those consulting fees!!! ;)

ibogorad
ibogorad

The problem is that I have not seen much in the way of constructive criticism yet. You are criticizing my suggestions without trying them, which is like me telling you that oysters have a horrible taste, albeit I never tried them. Give me objective facts. These things work for great many people and I would not be writing these articles had I not been involved in making positive changes of this sort happen. The suggestion that I am trying to "silence" criticism is just insane because it's an open board, so post away. I have no powers to stop anyone.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

over senior people whining as though they were juniors. Seeing as you are badly in need of a clue, here's one gratis. We aren't techs because we are stoopid.

No User
No User

Give me objective facts. Trying to stop and being able to stop are entirely different. You tried but the posts just keep coming...

dbecker
dbecker

Just how long will it take for the moral bankruptcy to effect a complete collapse of business, at which time, all such questions concerning IT will become rather moot? Just how does one make anyone listen to IT when the handwriting is on the wall [the aphorism derived from the account of what happened just before the fall of Babylon]? Well, Jason, you have done a good job. It's too bad it's going to be irrelevant.

settle.g
settle.g

IT never has been "part of the business" and it never will be. Most managers consider IT a necessary evil. Managers are trained to stay away from details so they don't bog-down in it. IT is nothing but details! Therefore, management will never comprehend IT. The three points in this video will certainly help, however. But if the apple is rotten at the core, bail!

No User
No User

"Lack of business knowledge" is a typical Standard Business Type (SBT) trait. As for Public traded companies they pretty much play the books with an eye on stock price so that they can get the best bonuses with little or no regard to the company, employees or customers. So not understanding that can certainly be detrimental to both your impact and job security. Let us not leave out Consortium's and other private companies where the CEO once seated typically has total control. They typically have all volunteer board of directors which are merely figureheads often put in place by the CEO. They may not have stock for sale but they do have huge salaries and bonuses. "Using the wrong language" is when you say something that is contrary to the SBT's plan to get that big bonus especially if what you say is in the best interest of the company and not the furthering of enrichment of the SBT's. Keep in mind that they may be able to count beans, sale and market but typically are quite clueless about properly running a business. I give you reality for this one. Is the current state of the world economy the result of IT folks or SBT's that hallucinated that they knew what they were doing? "Lack of assertiveness" This is caused by the typical SBT mentality that IT is separate from the business and NOT part of it. This once again is caused by the typical SBT's general lack of business knowledge, once again they can count beans, sale and market but are generally lacking business sense. IT "is" Specialized Business which directly makes IT part of the business. The IT person lacking assertiveness an interesting concept. Exactly how does one go about asserting them self when dealing with Fa King know it alls who's only concern is to use the business they are in charge of to enrich themselves, increase their elite cultural popularity and stroke their gargantuan egos? Yet another slap in the face of IT from an SBT put in charge of IT.

harrylal
harrylal

I find it unacceptable that the IT exec has to have business knowledge but the business execs don't feel the need to have any basic understanding of IT. It seems very much like having to simplify things as if talking to a child. Maybe that is the problem, the business execs are like children, and who in their right mind would want to have a child in charge of any large enterprise? Communication is a two way street, business execs need to learn some IT too.

ivanpopov2005
ivanpopov2005

they won't learn. they think they know everything. however, pointing out to them that they don't know enough about IT, may help remind them what's what

phportelance
phportelance

I agree with most of the other comments business is thinking short-term. They feel justified in using the cheapest IT method because they are getting business at the time and they want to show profit immediately. It does not matter that the cirumstances that they are creating is not allowing the company to sustain this business by paying for the proper infrastructure. They act like there is a new opportunity around every corner. The problem begins with anybody can run a business. It does not require knowledge, just money. If Business people could be trained on doing it right the first time IT departments would struggle less.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Corporate language, as alluded to by jkameleon, is a difficult minefield. You *must* be able to speak corporate-talk in order to succeed. In fact, in whatever sub-culture you happen to find yourself in, if you aren't able to adopt that method of communication, you're not going to be successful in that culture. If you want to successfully adopt into a group of Salt Lake City LDS, you better get your "Heavenly Fathers" in the right place. If you want to successfully adopt into a group of Southern California gangbangers, "y'all best know if you be chillin' with bloods or crips, homes..." And if you're going to talk successfully in Corporate America, you better know when to talk about "Forward looking 30,000 foot perspectives of the pervasive business climate in your target demographic". This isn't B.S., this is how groups identify themselves and customize language to fit their unqiue needs. With that said, I see a disturbing trend, in general C-level and mid-management staff picking up IT terminology and misapplying it. "Enterprise" is a big one for me, because my industry throws it around "willy-nilly" and if you're a REAL I.T. professional, you have no !@#$%^&*ing CLUE what they're talking about when they start talking "about the enterprise". They do, because they think that the enterprise is something other than it is. Inconcievable! This is just as bad as us not being able to meaningfully communicate back to them through the I.T. jargon. Lack of business knowledge is the killer. I suppose some people can bridge this, and be business majors who understand the business model and flow as well as any other mid or upper level manager - but to me, it seems like you devalue your technical expertise by broadening your knowledge this widely. No one expects Doctors, especially specialists, to understand much outside of their specialty. There is just too much to know. How is being a competent I.T. professional any different, other than that if you make a mistake, someone *probably* doesn't die. The whole push to have I.T. professionals that are more broadly skilled at business in general seems like a bad direction to me, and more of Corporate America wanting to "have its cake and eat it too". Someone else pointed out, individual departments understand their business flow, the roadblocks, the ways that automation or other IT systems might optimize their work. Those departments, groups, or teams need to be making "wish-lists" (not DEMANDS) and have running dialogs with I.T. to see if those dreams can be realistically achieved and implemented - cost-effectively. I.T., in turn, needs to be more CUSTOMER SERVICE oriented in the traditional "listen to the user and you will have world domination" Microsoft approach. Everyone knocks MS, and a LOT of the problems that Microsoft ended up on the cross for were a direct result of trying to comply with user demands. They're user-oriented to a fault. Microsoft may be a bad example, because they potentially went too far with it, and paid a price, eventually, for doing so. The fixes in Vista to a host of user-oriented features that turned out to be *problems* are a big part of the Vista "failure". But you can't just say, "No, this is impossible". IT needs to learn to say, "This is what you're asking, and..." "If I do this, here are some of the consequences and costs".... "I can do this for you, which achieves many of your goals, but doesn't have the potential for THIS or THIS or have the requirement for $$$ that it would take to implement what you want"... If you're in IT and you find yourself saying, "Your request is impossible", you're in the wrong business. It can ALL be done, and HAS been done. Look at some of the most high profile IT turn-around stories and you'll find CIOs who have this attitude, "Nothing is impossible, with even talent, money, time... now how BADLY do you want to achieve what you say you want..." Which all ties back neatly into assertivness. YOU own IT and everything in it. Take accountability and empower yourself. If that kind of constructive confrontation is going to get you fired, then you need to decide if you're happy being an errand boy, or if you should be looking for a company that will respect your IT expertise. Let's tie this back into the medical field. If a Doctor was consulting with a patient and the *patient* was constantly contradicting the Doctor's requirements and insisting that the Doctor perform different procedures, how long would the typical Doctor stand for this? Not for a single second. The Doctor knows that he is the expert, or knows how to bring in the proper expertise outside of his focus, and that the patient is there paying for that expertise. He owns it. IT is no different. OWN it. If you can't own it, again, wrong profession.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Not technically, one of my catch phrases is do you want it to make you a coffee as well. But within the constraints the business insists on. such as zero cost, risk and yesterday..... They won't let me own it, I'm a propeller head....

dcolbert
dcolbert

They ran an article here about how most business places want Chuck Norris to come in and be their CIO - because Chuck Norris would just STARE at the IT problems and they would get their act together. I've got it printed out and posted on my cork-board. With that said, being empowered and owning it means telling them... "This project will take and will cost and the benefits will be and the disadvantages are ." Listen, my perspective on the workplace. Employers want to hire employees for the least amount of money they can pay, and work them as hard as they can as long as they can for the most productivity and profit possible. Workers, on the other hand, want the MOST pay possible, for the least amount of actual work, with the best benefits and the most time off possible. Every transaction we have in life is like this. I want it yesterday, I want no risk, and I want it for free. Now, tell me how close to that mark you can get, and I'll tell you how much I'm willing to negotiate my original statement. I've "owned" myself right out of jobs before, for what it is worth. At Intel, I took ownership so seriously it (in part) eventually cost me my job. I've got a very Yoda like philosophy about this. You either own it, or you don't. It isn't up to any external force. And you can certainly own something while saying, "this is out of my hands". Owning it means offering alternatives and asking those who make the decisions which path they would like to take.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

But none of means anything changes. The short term attitude is endemic. What went wrong last time for instance. Eight end of project reviews, actions pints from what didn't work, same one everytime... Maybe we need to look at the isuse a different way, may be the action isn't actionable. Maybe it will just fix itself if we skip round our desks, fingers in our ears, singing la, la, la, la, la. It's statistically more likely to work than the last eight attempts.....

MyopicOne
MyopicOne

EVERYBODY thinks they're an IT expert these days. After all, they can install software in a few minutes, so why can't IT? After all, they can write a (simple) query or report in five minutes or less, so why can't IT crank out a QBE interface to SAP in an hour? Bad example, I know, but you get the idea...

Kingbackwards
Kingbackwards

You make quite a few valid points. I think the point of the IT guys have business expertise is more for the top IT management, including those with aspirations. Because many doctors (citing your example) own their practices, which means they need to know how to run a business. Making some business expertise a necessity. So as one "moves up the corporate ladder" they need to have a better focus on business just as much they stay current on information technology trends. Secondly, with technology in some areas being the driving force behind it. IT is less back office and more in the open and under the gun. So it's just that much more important that the manager is there because he knows what he's talking about not that he has done sufficient boot licking. So in some ways IT manager have to compensate to over come the "back office geek" mentality. And do like you said, present clear and concise arguments, own up, and see nothing as impossible. Doing all that for some is ultimately easier said than done.

dcolbert
dcolbert

And, expanding on the Doctor owned practice phenomenon, this is why many practices and many docs struggle, financially. Doctors tend to be a little overconfident in their abilities outside of medicine (this also makes them easy and favorite marks for con-artists) but being able to understand the miracle of the human body and fix it does not mean you're any good at financial decisions, or fixing PCs, or running a business. The Docs who have strong medical expertise and strong business skills are the most successful. Likewise, the IT workers who have the strongest IT skills and the best business experience are likely to also move ahead and be the most successful. IT has it's own problems with being over-assured and arrogant as an industry and often, at the individual level - and that doesn't help. Often where you see faulty business decisions, many of those choices can be traced back to pride.

EdMerc
EdMerc

Hey, don't go to South L.A. I don't think you belong there. :)

dcolbert
dcolbert

It doesn't translate well to the written word. You should hear me talk it. I make Eminem look like an amateur.

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