Saturday, August 4, 2018

Three Aspects of IT Management Clarity

IT has to keep consolidating, integrating, modernizing, innovating, and optimizing to improve its management clarity. 

IT is impacting every business unit and is becoming the driver of business change and innovation. Most IT organizations today are overloaded and understaffed, It is in the middle of a sea change. Some even thought that IT Management is a strange animal, in that the capabilities are there, the information is there - but the motivations are often confused, the management disciplines and practices are lack of clarity. Generally speaking, clarity is the ability to see the fundamentals. How can IT leaders avoid being overwhelmed, running a highly effective IT organization with clarity, transparency, and intelligence?

Communication clarity: The gap between IT and business is the reality. And one of the critical root causes is lack of communication clarity. IT failure is often caused by solving the wrong problems or fixing the symptoms only due to the miscommunication between IT and business. There are different dialects existing in the enterprise. Clarity of thoughts brings clarity of words, to avoid “lost in translation” syndrome. To improve communication clarity, IT leaders today have to be fluent in multiple business dialects, master communication content (what’s the core message), communication context (what will indicate to a different audience) and communication style (one to many vs. one to one; direct vs. indirect, etc.) The organizations, especially those strictly hierarchical large organizations with bureaucratic culture and silo mentality, have large communication bottlenecks, which stifle cross-functional communication and collaboration. Communication clarity makes directly impact on the business effectiveness. Communication clarity is not always proportional to how many words you speak. “Less is more” from the communication perspective means you need to speak less, observe and listen more, and truly improve communication effectiveness with empathy and clarity.

IT Service/solution quality and clarity: To reinvent IT from a cost center to a trustful business partner, IT needs to be influential for providing the high-quality services or solutions to meet the customers’ requirement with clarity. Many times IT delivers something which does not match the business’s expectation, it wastes resource and diminishes the management effectiveness. Thus, from the IT management perspective, it needs to shift from the answer-driven approach (what is the answer, “HOW” to fix it - often the symptom) to problem-centric scenario (what is the real issue, and why does it happen to track the root cause) IT and business should always be on the same page for clarifying the requirement and optimizing processes. Scaling the power of information is about how to take a step-wise management scenario that continually delivers what the business needs and takes further steps toward maximizing the business potential. From the organizational structure perspective, an organization can approach the flow zone when the positions in its hierarchy have clear and accountable tasks, communication is clarified, and processes are streamlined to improve the organizational performance seamlessly. To improve product or service quality as well as IT reputation as a strategic business partner, IT should be able to provide insights and tools, don’t always take the order and just deliver what the business asks for, but be able to achieve “what is possible” part, with clarified business requirement and achieve the business outcome higher than expectation.

Simplicity and clarity as IT management principle: The nature of IT is perhaps complex, but it doesn't mean IT should make things more complicated. IT is sometimes even perceived by their customers as providing the opposite of clarity. To build a strong brand and improve IT responsiveness and effectiveness, it’s important to follow the “Simplicity” principle for adding clarity and purpose. There is a coherent relationship between simplicity and clarity. When people use the word "simplicity," they are really talking about a kind of transparency or clarity. Removing complexity (assumptions & dependencies) more clearly reveals the intentions of IT management and its purpose. IT leaders and managers should continue clarifying: What business problem is a business initiative funded to solve? What is the purpose of IT component? How are responsibilities and assignment allocated to various layers of management/engineering discipline? SIMPLICITY may either refer to an architectural constraint or to a business requirement. There are two sides of IT, the technical side is complex, but it can still be optimized; to deliver intuitive products/services, make the complex part of IT/technology invisible to customers. What is left visible to customers should be simple, intuitive, reliable, predictable, and intuitive.

IT has to keep consolidating, integrating, modernizing, innovating, and optimizing to improve its management clarity. The priority for CIOs is to genuinely position IT as an integral and inseparable part of the business to capitalize on the business opportunity and lead the digital transformation effectively.


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