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CIO to CEO--Get Value from IT

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08/19/10

Permalink 10:30:24 pm, Categories: Personal Development

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be a guest panelist in a class titled "Solutions Oriented Leadership" taught by my colleague Cheri Baker. Cheri asked me to join the panel with two other leaders. The class was small (about 8 people) which provided a great forum. The students were prepared with a list of 18 questions and we tackled about half of them. One of the questions revolved around "Who is your most important mentor and why?" and the answers were memorable.

Each of the panelists talked about various people who have mentored them through the years, but one common theme emerged--a mentor is someone who not only sets a good example, but can also provide you with a different point of view that may not always be easy to hear. Mentors are people who can help you improve yourself--not by taking action for you, but rather by helping you understand the action you must take.

Everyone should have mentors--they may be formal relationships (such as an executive coach), colleagues, or friends or family. Regardless of the relationship, a mentor must be someone you can be honest with and someone who can be honest with you.

Take a moment to think about the mentors in your life and how they have helped you. And if you don't have a good network of mentors, consider adding a new mentor in the next week. You probably already know someone who would be a great fit!


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07/24/10

When your organization hires a new person, what do you look for? What are the things that are important to your company? One common attribute that many companies look for is clearly defined career growth in the individual. Depending on the type of position, this growth may be indicated by promotions or, for more skill-based or technical positions, growth in the knowledge of more complex systems, procesess, or techniques. Regardless of the type of growth, the important factor for many companies is to see growth.

So what happens with your own employees? Do you provide growth opportunities within your company? Are you committing company resources to making learning opportunities available? How do you respond to employees who have "outgrown" the company (i.e. they are ready for the next level, but the company is not yet able to provide that growth, as in the case of someone being ready for a management position but a management position is not yet available)? Good companies understand that sometimes people grow faster than the organization and when the time comes for the employee to move on in order to continue growing, the company wishes them well and maintains connections with them (because these employees often end up coming back when an opportunity is available).

Do your functional areas have line items in the budget for continuing training? Does training get "cut" first when times are tough? Are employees encouraged to learn new things and put them to use?

Great companies grow great people--and retain many of them but accept that some will go on to other companies (where they will hopefully help develop more great people). Keep this in mind as you look at taking your company to the next level. People make the company and the company makes the people. It should be a win-win situation.

NOTE: I will be taking a short (2-3 week) break from the blog, but will return in late August. Until then, feel free to check out some of the entries in the archive. --Don


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07/09/10

If an organization says that "IT is a strategic part of our business", what do you think about? Perhaps spending money on equipment and software? Maybe hiring very talented people? How about incorporating rigorous project evaluation criteria into the technology process?

All of these actions (and more) must be in place to back up the words. Employees often look for the organizational leadership to "show" what they mean, rather than just "say" what they mean. It is essentially the old adage "Walk the Talk", but it is just as important today as a thousand years ago.

Employees are smart--if they hear words but don't see actions, they know that the words mean nothing. Keep this in mind as you communicate your strategies. To take a bit of liberty with an old saying, "If you can't say something that is true, don't say anything at all."

On a related note, if there are topics you would like me to discuss in these posts, please drop me a line and let me know. I am always open to suggestions on how to make this information relevant and useful.


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06/28/10

Have you ever walked into a situation where you needed to figure out something quickly based on events that happened in the past only to find that there was no documentation of what happened? If so, then you've had a chance to play Sherlock Holmes (or to rewrite history). Neither is nearly as much fun in practice as it is on TV or in textbooks.

Be sure that you and others in your organization create documentation about the HOW and WHY of significant decisions and put the documentation in a common place so others can find it in the future. How do you define "significant decisions"? It is really a matter of relativity--what are the things are are (or could be) relevant to your organization in the future. Create some general rules around what to document and share them with everyone.

If you don't do this....well then, you might want to look for a job writing history textbooks....or playing detective!!


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06/22/10

Permalink 11:35:06 pm, Categories: IT Leadership, Business Leadership

Have you ever had to implement a project (IT-related or not) where you were given too little time to do things "right" and ended up with a sub-par result? How often have you said "I wish we could do this again and do it right"?

Rarely do we get those chances in life or in business, but sometimes it does happen. Sometimes, the right leadership (and timing) comes together and creates an opportunity to re-do a project. When this happens, bring all of the parties to the table and take the time to discuss what you learned from the earlier implementation, map out a course to avoid the same issues, and create measurements to show the value that the organization will receive from the re-implementation.

Take advantage of these opportunities--they are rare and precious.


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Don shares his experience and ideas about how to get the most value from your IT function. Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of Don and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of his clients or employers.

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