People & Change Tag

To compete in the world of dynamic and disrupted digital markets your organization needs to develop the right technology and IT strategy for success. Here are 5 steps to building a better IT strategy for your organization:

1. Traditional or agile?

You’ve heard time and time again the difference between agile and traditional approaches, but do you know which method your organization needs?

Traditional IT Strategy

The traditional approach to developing a new technology strategy involves a structured and sequential process that produces a long-term view of the organization’s technology requirements together with a plan for meeting these needs. Technology strategies developed using the classic approach have a 3- to 5-year time horizon in line with your organization’s vision and business strategy. But focusing purely on long-term goals and plans could actually limit the organization’s ability to respond to the inevitable changes in its markets that will happen over much shorter timescales. Long-term technology plans run the risk of diverging from the actual business needs, which inevitably change and evolve over time.

It’s important to acknowledge, though, the traditional approach to technology strategy has many strengths, and it can serve your organization very well if used in the right circumstances.

Agile IT strategy

The agile approach to technology strategy is based on many of the same activities as the traditional approach but with some key differences that take into account the need for speed and flexibility. The agile technology strategy requires a collaborative and interactive approach with IT personnel working side-by-side with staff from other areas of the business during every step of the process. Additionally, architecture plays a key role in this approach – it’s assumed that the organization’s current architecture is already documented and maintained as changes are made and that architectural principles and standards are established and are used to guide decisions made about technology initiatives.

2. Create your IT mission

IT missions are a great way to highlight cultural points that are of particular importance to the IT department. When formulating an IT mission, remember:

  • It should align with your defined corporate mission.
  • Create a set of simple guiding principles that will drive daily decision making. A great IT mission ought to be used in the recruiting process to gauge cultural fit; it should be used as part of the evaluation of staff; it should even be used to gauge fit of strategic vendor partners.
  • It should be created with at least a five-year time horizon in mind.

 

3. Work with your enterprise

No industry or organization exists that isn’t impacted by technology. Moreover, there is no division of the company that doesn’t need technology to implement its strategies. So, it’s essential that IT engages the rest of the leaders of the company early enough that the plans can still be shaped.

The best way to engage leaders outside of IT is to talk to them about the future. Remember, the conversations don’t have to be explicitly about technology – technology is the “how” or the means of getting to the ends. It’s more important to address the “what” first. If possible, IT should push department leaders to leverage a common framework so that strategic plans line up at the same level of clarity and granularity. By using a common framework, each department plan can be compared, and your organization’s IT team will be able to identify where common themes exist and suggest single solutions.

4. Develop IT’s own strategy

With IT’s mission firmly in mind, and with the insights garnered from having helped shape the strategies of the other divisions of the company and at the enterprise level, IT must develop its own plan. In addition to the inputs from the rest of the company, IT should conduct research into rising general IT trends such as:

  • More sophisticated and persistent cyber threats
  • The innovation of technology at a staggering pace
  • Clients expecting even more from IT
  • The war for technical talent
  • Industry volatility

 

Once the strategy is created, it is essential that the dots be connected with the initiatives and processes that IT will develop and deploy respectively.

5. Don’t discount the power of change management

“Change is good” is a common statement, especially in the digital transformation era, but you would be surprised by the number of well-formulated IT strategies that don’t end up generating the value anticipated because the plans are not communicated well, leading to only a few people driving the strategy forward effectively.

Change management is critical to the success of business technology programs geared towards realizing the mission and vision of an organization. To encourage positive and sustainable change across your organization’s departments, learn the 6 change management strategies that’ll help you avoid burnout and improve digital transformation adoption.

In the workplace, change means progress, new technology, business growth, and increased productivity. But if poorly managed, change can only lead to one thing…employee burnout. What can you do to prevent change burnout and ensure sustainable results? Given the rush to digital transformation across all industries these days, the answer may surprise you – slow down.

In the fitness industry, there’s a widely known training method called Time Under Tension (or TUT for short). It is commonly used in strengthening, conditioning and bodybuilding – all of which involve changing one’s physiology. TUT refers to how long a muscle is under strain during a set. While you may see people at the gym powering through their training with heavy weights and be tempted to replicate their method, the idea of TUT is to think in slow motion – intentionally slow your workouts down to activate your muscles, focus on form, and prevent injuries. By taking the slow and steady path, and evolving your strategy once you pass specific benchmarks, you increase your odds of sustaining your new lifestyle and achieving your goals.

Similarly, a paced and steady path is crucial for effective change management. Technology has transformed every industry, and there’s an increasing pressure to keep up or be left behind. This triggers a knee-jerk reaction to seek change and implement it as quickly as possible. But just like people in the gym who are seeking fast results through heavy lifting, if you push for change too rapidly and without a phased plan of action, you’re likely going to hurt your progress and productivity. So what can you do to ensure smooth and successful transitions within your organization and avoid burnout? Here are 6 tips to follow:

1. Be transparent

When you realize change is necessary, be open with your employees about what needs to change. You’re likely making these changes to benefit those involved, so why keep your team in the dark? Before starting any implementation, hold a meeting to explain what the changes will look like, how and when they will take place, and the anticipated benefits. With open communication, employees are more likely to feel like valued members of the organization.

2. Listen

Digital leaders need a pulse on their organization’s baseline culture in order to recognize shifts in morale and other signs of change saturation. You hired your employees because they are smart, capable, and bring unique skills and perspectives to the table. So create opportunities for them to share their experiences and listen. At least as important as holding a meeting before implementing change is having regular follow-up sessions to keep your employees aware of progress as it unfolds and listen for potential signs of burnout. This time also provides space for employees to share their frustrations and concerns, find solutions, and feel “heard.”

3. Understand the impact change has on your workforce

Any significant change in the workplace can mean more stress for your employees – this can lead to poor performance and employee burnout. In fact, stress over organizational changes has been found to lower the average employee’s performance and engagement. Having a manager who understands the burden that change places on their employees and who encourages them to cope with that stress in healthy ways helps prevent burnout while promoting loyalty and a sense of comradery during transitional periods.

4. Reward champions of change

Adapting to change isn’t easy. But it’s made a little bit easier by encouragers and leaders within the team who step up to the plate when the process gets tough. Have you noticed certain employees going above and beyond to help others adjust to a new transition, share their knowledge, and support their teammates? Publicly reward those employees in unique ways (it doesn’t necessarily have to be in monetary form!) The reward matters less than the genuine expression of gratitude to your employees.

5. Delegate tasks

Significant workplace change may call for new roles to increase the odds of a smooth transition. To avoid overwhelming one or two employees, evenly distribute tasks associated with the change across your team, and publicly announce these change-related roles. This will give employees a personal investment in making the change a success and create a shared sense of having some skin in the game.

6. Publically post metrics and goals

Change in the workplace is hard enough. Don’t waste your team’s precious time tracking down information, instructions, and resources necessary to successfully adjust. Keep your goals and metrics accessible. Technologies and services are available to help your organization’s leaders post directions, processes, and helpful resources facilitate smooth transitions.