Monday, September 12, 2016

Your future roadmap

IT organizations today face constant change. How are you facing that change?

To position yourself for the future, you need to craft a "future roadmap." This roadmap should identify the projects and initiatives that will address known and expected priorities and needs, while providing enough flexibility to accommodate future changes.

Lead an exercise within your teams to identify what your projects and initiatives should be. What is your future roadmap?

In one such exercise, we created this set of ideas, presented here in no particular order:
Advancing Excellence
A plan for substantially increasing IT effectiveness and quality, reducing costs, and boosting innovation.

Change Approval
A formal review board to manage changes to the IT environment via a formal request and approval mechanism.

Business Intelligence
Tools designed to improve how data is gathered, analyzed, and shared across the organization with the goal of fostering a culture of collaboration and data-driven decision-making.

Broadband
Eliminating the organizational "digital divide" by expanding access to high-speed Internet.

IT Governance
Common business methodologies for work and resource management. Every major work effort should have a governing body that provides direction.

Technology Innovation
Foster partnerships in support of technology innovation to transform the organization.

Wireless
Increasing high-speed wireless Internet coverage in critical spaces.

IT Service Management
ITSM helps develop and implement key industry standard (such as ITIL) service management processes and supporting tools to manage the IT environment more efficiently and cost effectively, while providing  high quality services to customers.

Data Center Transformation
Consolidate servers and operate data centers more efficiently to reduce costs, free up space, and go green. Also consider outsourcing "commodity" services to the Cloud or vendor-hosted solutions.
Other future opportunities include: Collaborative work environments, "One IT," mobile apps, data analytics, IT rationalization, communication and collaboration, Cloud computing, IT optimization and IT infrastructure.

Do you maintain a future roadmap for your IT organization?
image: chintermeyer/Flickr (cc-by)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Leadership lessons at the Government IT Symposium

I am excited to share that I will be presenting "Leadership lessons from unusual places" at this year's Government IT Symposium, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I hope to see you there!

The topic comes from a sometimes-repeated topic on this blog: I like to find leadership lessons in unusual places. Often from television or movies, these leadership lessons look at a scenario from a different perspective. You can learn many lessons about leadership from TV shows or movies, even such unlikely sources as Breaking Bad, Superman II, Pulp Fiction, Disney's Mulan, Star Wars, The Walking Dead, and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. There's something for everyone!

If you're planning to attend the Symposium, please attend my talk. It will be an engaging audience discussion as we review the lessons together. You'll have a lot of fun—and you'll learn a few leadership takeaways!

My presentation is set for Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

I'm also doing a second talk about usability, with a presentation titled "Usability testing in open source software." Check out my other blog Open Source Software & Usability for more info!
image: MN Government IT Symposium

Monday, September 5, 2016

Yes, but no

A former colleague from the University of Wisconsin-Madison once showed me how to build trust within teams through the "Yes and" approach. When you say "Yes," you provide agreement. If you build on that and say "Yes and," you lend support.

Practicing "Yes and" can be a very powerful team building exercise. When I experienced this in a workshop, we did it this way: We broke up into small groups (three or four people) and had one person start with a statement. The group (including the first person) took turns saying "Yes and" to build on the statement: "I'm enjoying today's workshop." "Yes, and you can use the lessons in your day-to-day leadership." "Yes, and if you exercise this every day, it becomes a habit." "Yes, and I can do some defensive scheduling on my calendar to reflect on how I'm using it." When the group ran out of "Yes and" responses, we had someone else start again with a new statement.

I prefer "Yes and" statements. They are positive, reinforcing conversation tools that build trust. In contrast, "Yes but" statements erode trust. Some people seem to think it's the same as "Yes and," but it's not. "Yes but" is at best a way to stay on both sides of an issue. At worst, "Yes but" is a negating statement. The "Yes but" statement says "Yes, I agree with you, but not really."

Consider this exchange: "I'd like for us to work on project X." "Yes, but do we have the funds for it?"

The first person might be a manager identifying a new project for her team to work on. Or the first person might be a staff member suggesting a project he would like to be assigned to.

Maybe the second person was agreeing to the project idea, but was genuinely concerned if there was space in the budget to pay for it. Or maybe the second person wasn't interested in the project, and was trying to side-step it. In either case, the "Yes but" immediately presents a road-block to the conversation.

To me, if you say "Yes but," you are really saying "No." It's just a more creative "No," or a softened "No."

How would you turn this "Yes but" into a "Yes and" statement? Try converting the "but" statement into an action statement. "I'd like for us to work on project X." A manager responding to a staff member might say, "Yes, and I'll check the budget to see if we have the funds for it." A staff member answering a manager might reply, "Yes, and I'll do a rough estimate on costs so you can fit it in the budget." Both answers provide support for the idea, and raise awareness of costs and funding.
image: richoz/Flickr (cc-by)