Dear CEO: IT Innovation Depends on You

Dear Mr./Ms. CEO,

I’m glad you were open to the ideas in my previous letter  Since you expressed an interest in the additional methods for supporting the IT team, I am following up with the last two points. But be prepared. These aren’t quick to-do items you can add to a list. They are big and important changes–ones with real transformative power.

About our motivations, mine and yours

In my first letter, I recommended that you implement my suggestions in order to dramatically improve the efficiency and efficacy of your IT group.

As we move into these more advanced practices, it’s worthwhile to note that their impact goes way beyond improving the efficiency and efficacy of IT. These practices are like catalysts to starting an innovation chain reaction–the Holy Grail of every CEO for their IT group.

The principles I am about to share with you will generate tremendous energy, enthusiasm and contribution from the IT team. Moreover, when practiced correctly, they will benefit not only the IT team but your entire company.

Picking up from where we left off, here are two steps you can take to energize your company’s IT group:

Number 1 – Show a little love, appreciation and respect. Here’s the problem: Whether you realize it or not, your IT group does not feel appreciated and respected. You may think you tell them they do a good job, but that message is not getting through. In fact, exactly the opposite is occurring: IT feels alienated from the rest of the business.

In one survey after another, IT managers speak of being unappreciated. They do not feel that their personal work is respected and they do not feel that their department is valued. And while it may be easy to “blame” the IT group for the situation, it’s up to you, as the leader of the company, to fix it. 

So, here’s what can you do:

  1. Face up to the fact that the relationships between IT and other areas of your business are not in particularly good shape.
  2. Internalize and accept the fact that much of this stems from a lack of respect, recognition and appreciation for IT. (This really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. After all, it’s a pretty common issue in human relationships.)
  3. Make an important change. In place of your current attitude towards IT (which probably sits somewhere between irritation and indifference), start to take notice, real notice, of what the IT group actually does. Take a few minutes to understand how difficult their work really is. Actively demonstrate, with your attention and the look in your eyes, that you care about their work and that you can see how important and valuable it is to the company.

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