To contribute business value, IT has to understand the organization’s mission, vision and strategies. All of that starts with trust and transparency.
The Trust Dividend
The cynics among you may be cringing that this is all a bit too warm and fuzzy. You may be grumbling that you were looking for some hard examples of how business value is created. But I believe that this type of warm and fuzzy approach results in an IT organization’s ability to consistently deliver business value to the organization. Call it the “Trust Dividend.”
Years ago, Keithley had an opportunity to be at the forefront of what we would now consider the smartphone revolution. Working with groups that would eventually become Research in Motion (and then BlackBerry), they began experimenting with this technology to see how it could work in CAA. Because of the high levels of trust that existed, they invested significant amounts of time and resources in a highly speculative project. They hid nothing and shared everything with the management team, who clearly did not understand where they were going. But trust and intimacy prevailed. Eventually, they produced a co-developed BlackBerry-like product that would allow CAA agents to gain remote access to critical data sitting in data center servers.
One day over lunch, one of their executives was sitting with a high-powered producer discussing a package of talent. It was clear that it was not the right mix. In the past, the opportunity would have been lost and they would have had to go back to the office and start over, hoping that the opportunity would still exist once they had regrouped. But this executive was testing out the new mobile tool. Sitting in a bathroom stall, he quickly searched CAA’s databases and compiled a new talent package on the spot. Returning to the table, he got the deal done. The dividend was clear when that executive called Keithley on his drive back to the office and told him, “That one deal just covered your entire IT budget for the year. Thank you.”
Creating business value is not alchemy. It is about being close enough to your business partners that you can see how your team can contribute to the organization’s mission, vision and strategies in immediate and tangible ways. That takes trust. The good news is that it all starts with you. If you treat trust as a gift—and give it—you will be laying the foundation of an organization that will consistently perform and deliver. It will put you on the path to lasting intimacy with your customers and will eventually help you to realize the trust dividend and take your organization to places even you haven’t imagined.
About the Author
Charles Araujo is the founder and CEO of The IT Transformation Institute, which is dedicated to helping IT leaders transform their teams into customer-focused, value-driven learning organizations. He is the author of the book The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change, is presently at work on two new books. Araujo is also the creator of DeepRoots, an organizational change methodology designed for IT teams. He frequently speaks and writes on a wide range of subjects related to his vision of the future of IT. You can follow him on Twitter as @charlesaraujo.