IT peer groups provide CIOs at medium-size firms with advice and support, help them achieve goals, and can lead to new personal relationships.
Members must also reciprocate with each other. Lang introduced the group to his “Three Percent Fund.” If an employee’s annual salary is $50,000, for example, Lang allocates another $1,500 to their compensation for support of their pet causes. If their child’s sports team needs sponsors, or if they are raising money for cancer awareness, Pinnacle gives a gift toward it. Many peer group members have adopted the fund idea, he says.
Until this year, members have acted as group facilitators, but HTG is phasing in professional facilitators. It is also introducing online groups, which it has facilitated in the past, for companies that cannot afford the cost of attending face-to-face groups.
Face-to-face group members must attend the quarterly meetings and can bring up to four employees. On the second day, the members split off into smaller groups for their specialties. Companies must have at least eight full-time employees, and earn annual revenues of more than $750,000. Annual dues range from $2,500 to $3,000.
Although neither Knutson nor Lang can quantify the ROI for their group, both say an invaluable benefit is IT peers who have become friends. “I call them if I have a problem,” says Knutson. “They’ll share how they solved it. They’re my friends.”
Members also often feel comfortable enough to declare personal goals, like getting away for a long weekend with their spouse or losing weight. “We interact through Facebook and Twitter and know what’s going on in one another’s lives,” says Lang. “I asked one to give his kid a High Five from me for his soccer team.”
Lastly, Lang urges peer group members to be transparent during meetings. “Don’t puff out your chest,” he says, “and act like you’re doing everything right and don’t need help. Say where you need help.”
About the Author
Based in New York City, Karen A. Frenkel writes about business, entrepreneurs, innovation, computer science and technology, and has been published by Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg Businessweek, FastCompany.com and Science.