Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Which Lessons Shall you Learn to Harness IT and Business Relationship

IT needs to share valuable lessons in building close companionship with business peers, customers, and partners.

Digital is about breaking down silo thinking and harness cross-functional communication and collaboration. Although, many say that the gaps between business and IT are actually enlarged because the different function of the business takes the pace with the varying speed in digital transformation. The laggard would drag down the speed of change in the business as a whole. Hence, it’s important to build up a trust relationship between functions, between functional leaders, and between leaders and employees. Without good business relationships, every decision becomes an argument. The deeper the trust - the more valuable the relationship. In order to bridge the gaps between business and IT, which learning lessons IT should share to harness cross-functional collaboration and improve organizational agility and maturity?

Quick Wins: Most IT organizations get stuck at the lower level of maturity, they have been perceived as cost centers by the business partners. Often times, there are a lot of projects/activities going on in an organization, IT is often overloaded and under delivery. Therefore, to build a trust relationship, presenting IT value and sharing some success stories of quick wins are significantly important. For example, from the IT management perspective, a CIO might be interested in a summary of the IT ROI and TCO as a business case for change. Regardless of the analysis and design, and numerous spreadsheets of proven tangible and intangible benefits of the IT project portfolio, abstraction is created to convey the business value of change, identify and reap some quick wins to present IT values to the business. In practice, there are a lot of objects, components, and web services being created, however, the context for those IT initiatives is not clear. To reap some low hanging fruit and get some quick wins, IT needs to create a decent business capability map and use that to frame these activities or artifacts. Then IT management can use the capability map to drive portfolio management, and IT leaders can set the right priority, do the gap analysis and find a solution, demonstrate the value via showing some quick wins.

Learning from failures: At the age of innovation, failure is seen as a fruit full of experience. Failure is part of innovation. It depends on how you read failure. Part of being a leader is taking the risk. If you take risks in doing innovation, you are going to fail at some of them. The point is to fail fast and fail forward. Learning from others’ mistakes, also share the failure lessons with others are a great way to harness communication and build trust relationships. The other condition necessary to make failure a learning opportunity is self-insight. It is the insight into the cause of the failure and the alternative courses of action that could have been pursued that make it a real “lesson learned.” What makes leaders successful is what they do after they fail at something. What gives them the chance to do something else. The point is always to learn from the failure and fail forward. From self-insight to shared insight, innovation lessons can be scaled up more seamlessly. Without shared insight, the likelihood of the same situation repeating itself again in the future is higher. Through the insight shared and lessons learned from failures, IT and business can work more closely to avoid innovation pitfalls and achieve common business goals with accelerated speed.

Innovation dilemma: Digital is the age of innovation. Digital innovation expands the horizon, with the full spectrum of disciplines and practices: from incremental, evolutionary innovation to radical or disruptive innovation, from the "hard innovations," such as products/services/process innovation, to "soft innovations," such as management/ communication/culture innovation, etc. In order to manage a full innovation portfolio effectively, the IT and business partners need to share and deal with the innovation dilemmas constantly. Because whether an organization is more or less innovative depends on the clarity and precision with which its purpose is developed, understood and disseminated; and the extent to which people can buy into a realizable vision that contains the imperative to innovate. Further, breaking outdated rules is indeed an important part of creativity; on the other side, to get the best results, you need to structure creative processes by setting certain rules. For instance, depending on where you are in the process, you might want to ‘force’ people to rephrase a challenge, let them view an idea from different perspectives, and set certain rules to stay focus on managing innovation efficiently. Digital organizations can become hyper-connected and "super-creative" via dealing with the innovation dilemma collectively. It seems that the more integrated and culturally based innovation or imagination is, the more sustainable and productive such initiatives are.

IT needs to attribute business value to its company in building close companionship with the business peers, customers, and partners, to advancing highly effective IT leadership, also in developing multi-dimensional views of KPIs that show how IT is improving business and enforcing business competency for long-term prosperity. More than technology, an effective relationship can bridge business success. Still, the professional relationship goes beyond 'buddy' type. The better your management skills are, the more you will be appreciated and the more productive your ideas will become, and the organization as a whole will become an integrated, agile and high mature digital leader.


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