The Gravitas & Grit Series: Part 3 The Gut Check(list)

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” Dr. Spock (Not the one from Star Trek. The other one.)

21st century IT organizations should not be order takers. Whether a service desk ticket or a strategic program, IT needs to have a data-driven gut check for any request. Here’s some

  1. Choose a product. Any product. Beware when stakeholders ask for IT to “tell us the best product.” There are some base products (e.g. network gear) for which BlogGraphicListenIT should be fully accountable. However, anything that an end user will touch should have full involvement by the relevant stakeholders. A contractor wouldn’t agree to paint a room, never mind build a whole house, without involvement by the home owner. Don’t let your internal stakeholders skip out on their accountability in product selection.
  2. Full service doesn’t mean blind acquiescence. Recently, I heard an executive say “Person X is great, they always give us what we want.” However, the projects in the related portfolio were chronically late with a high error rate. Person X was delivering small, unimportant, tactical items that did nothing to move priority programs forward, in fact they were creating customizations that actually impeded forward progress.
  3. Key Performance Indicators aren’t IT’s to choose. The 99.999% uptime as the gold standard of IT value died sometime around 1994. The only KPIs that matter are the ones internal and external customers care about. And one customer’s valued KPI is another’s “I don’t care.” This makes establishing and being transparent about value difficult, but it is IT reality.
  4. The Date Ultimatum. “It has to be done by June,” says the executive, upon which your gut clenches. Don’t say yes, don’t say no. Say (in the right degree of professionalism for the interaction) “good to know the expectation; would like to talk about what ‘it’ really is and how we can work together to fully understand how we get ‘it’ done.” It’s OK to ask questions! Learn to ask the right questions and get at the motivation behind ultimatums; only then can you partner effectively.

There are plenty of sad stories about IT individuals, teams and organizations with good intentions who get derailed. Trust your gut by trusting yourself and displaying “Gravitas and Grit” when selecting technology, providing service, sharing metrics and making commitments.

” ‘May the Force be with you’ is charming but it’s not important. What’s important is that you become the Force – for yourself and perhaps for other people.” Harrison Ford, actor

Worth considering:

While working on some presentation, I needed a simple icon did a search for “corporate image.” There were three rows of 38 images that appeared in the top results. 11 depicted male figures with ties. The remaining 27 were buildings, lightbulbs, briefcases, charts. It wasn’t until the fifth row was there a clearly female figure. This is not data, it’s just one person’s experience on a given day. However, in light of the stories at the top of the news, it is another reminder that inclusiveness and equality has a long way to go.



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