The Path to 'Best Self' and a Stronger IT

The Path to 'Best Self' and a Stronger IT-Business Partnership

If our goal is to reshape the IT-business relationship into a partnership and break the Trigger-Shadow response cycle, where do we start? How can we get less Shadow and more Best Self behavior? Here are two suggestions.

Action No. 1: Learn and leverage your IT leadership's Unconscious Motivators and Prints.

"You can't manage what you don't measure," the saying goes. Start with self-awareness. Identify the dominant Unconscious Motivators and Print behaviors of your IT leaders, individually and collectively, and assess how their natural biases and benefits are imprinting on your IT environment and business relationships today. Which behaviors are showing up--Best Self or Shadow--and at what cost to your partnership potential? What do you need to protect; what do you need to reshape? What triggers are inherent or active in your business environment that adversely impact your unique set of Unconscious Motivators and how can you eliminate or mitigate them? What strategies can you use to manage your collective leadership to regain Best Self?

Caution: Although we identified the prevalent Unconscious Motivators driving IT organizations, each IT leadership team has its own behavioral identity, and every IT organization has a unique blend of internal challenges and friction points. To get the greatest return on investment, understand your Print baseline before you launch a strategy to strengthen your IT-business partnership and improve your internal IT dynamics.

Action No. 2: Reveal the IT adoption dynamics preventing IT benefits realization.

Given that every relationship has two players, each affecting the other, IT leadership teams may not always be able to shift the partnership dynamics solely by moving from Shadow to Best Self. An intervention that levels the playing field between IT and its potential business partners may be required to create shared responsibility for improving IT-driven business outcomes.

One technique for accelerating IT benefits realization involves exposure and delineation of organizational dynamics that preclude or erode effective adoption and interaction. Recognizing that the business value of unused software is effectively zero, framing the adoption landscape in a cohesive picture forces a convergence of perspectives on ultimate business value and planning across IT and the business, eliminating the blame game and putting skin in the game for both sides.

This intervention drives IT to focus on the human elements involved in software adoption and effective usage, while driving the business to remove structural or business process and policy impediments that complicate the receiving end.

This adoption intervention increases the IT organization's credibility and level of influence in the business, changing the nature of the conversation between IT leaders and their business peers, and creating an opening for a real partnership to develop.

Leadership Behavior is a Choice

IT leaders face escalating expectations and challenges by business peers as technology gets simpler and cheaper. Unfortunately, the adoption and effective use of technology--the human element in driving business results through IT--is difficult. Despite its complexity, however, there is rarely proactive investment or partnership between IT and the business in managing the behavioral shifts required to drive sustained adoption of technology, effective usage of the resulting information and the ultimate value contribution of IT to business results. Instead, internal business dynamics too frequently degenerate into reactive environments and vicious cycles of Shadow behavior arising from a clash of Unconscious Motivators and unchecked triggers.

The impacts of behavior on IT-business relationships and results are very real, and more predictable than most IT leaders realize. By understanding and tapping the Unconscious Motivators of your people, you can minimize triggers, improve the outcomes of the IT-business partnership, and ensure the continuous input and interest of the next generation of leaders.

Harnessing the "power" of personalities can make the difference between mediocrity and high performance in driving and enabling business innovation, growth and consistently positive customer experiences through IT. As an IT leader, you really can make your mark intentionally; it's a matter of choice.

This article was originally published on 05-19-2009
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