Thursday, 23 October 2014

Is Your IT a Wallflower?

I recently was speaking with an IT leader who was saying that she was having challenges getting together with her business counterparts.

“They must just be really busy” she sighed.
“Are all of them are busy? Must be a huge initiative underway, is it annual budget review time or something? I asked.
“Well we only have one contact in the business who we typically deal with, and they just don’t have the time.” she replied

As she mentioned only one business contact I could feel myself fading into a flashback when I would go to junior high school dances, not entirely sure how it did that, but it did. As I stood there in a daze for a second I soon realized that this situation somewhat reminded me of asking a girl to dance. Follow me here for a bit, Think back, guys and girls would be in their own groups and as the music started there would be a hurried pace to get a dance partner much like a reverse musical chairs. Inevitably the remaining people would look around realizing that time had run out.  

The stragglers would start to justify their lack of partner by saying to themselves something like; “that girl I was going to ask is already with someone else, guess I will stand here until she’s free and ask her next time. Meanwhile, on the other side of the dimly lit room a similar group of girls stand wondering why the younger version of me didn’t come over. They would rationalize it as maybe he didn’t see me and they might wait for me to get a clue. Newsflash – teenage boys don’t get the clue!

Despite the perhaps simplistic comparison there are striking similarities with the business and IT interaction to a degree. If IT is waiting for the business to make the first move and ask them to dance they could be standing at the side with your hands in your pocket until it’s too late. In some cases when the business feels that IT is out of touch they may choose to have more than a few dances with another partner and decide to get their services from an alternate provider.

Much like in this junior high school dance example, you should reach out to other people who you might not have otherwise asked. In some cases finding another business contact will prompt your current contacts to take notice and get more engaged. Having a few different perspectives, through a multitude of ‘dance partners’ on how your business consumes services will give you a better sense of the big picture. Initiating these conversations will start to position IT in a way in which will allow you to identify additional commonalities and subtle differences which may impact the way you deliver service, as well as the way you support services

The key, I explained to my colleague, was that their discussion with the business has to continue and to grow beyond one person. In the beginning it might be slow, so don’t get discouraged. The result in the long run is that you will have improved the relationship you have with your business and will be less likely to standing wondering why you have no one to dance with.

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