Developing an IT strategy will help better-align your department with the business, The Advisory Council suggests. It also identifies three key leadership responsibilities and offers tips to protect your servers from hacker attacks.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

November 26, 2003

3 Min Read

Topic C: What are the most productive tasks an IT leader can focus on?

Our advice: IT leaders are accustomed to keeping a hundred balls in the air, but three key leadership responsibilities have to be protected from getting lost amid the motion and clutter. They have the highest positive leverage when done right; when done wrong, or even done so-so, they can lead to disaster. We call these three the "Vees." They are:

  • Vision -- A clear, inspiring description of a wonderful future condition, robust enough to provide context and priorities for operational initiatives.

Visions need nurturing. To start, they need visionaries. Part of the process of describing the "wonderful future condition" is a flash of insight that takes the realities of the current condition, the future possibilities offered by technology, and the future context supplied by societal and market trends and, based on that incomplete and contradictory data, leaps to a simple picture five years out. Second, visions need to be visualized, or captured graphically. Third, they need to be restated, over and over, until your most junior developers can recite the vision word-for-word. Finally, visions need to be refreshed and updated.

Values -- A clear understanding of what your organization, top to bottom, considers "good" and "bad" behavior.

Every organization needs clearly articulated and commonly accepted values from which to work. Their absence guarantees inconsistent behavior and perceived injustice in reward and punishment, both of which will have a negative impact on productivity, staff retention, and user relations. To avoid making every decision yourself, you must teach your staff your decision process: how you gather data, how you identify alternatives, and what values and principles you apply. Without this empowerment, you can't trust your organization to "do what's right" without your micro-management.

Victories -- Making sure critical tasks are done with excellence, and then celebrating their achievement.

Victories are the milestones along the way to the vision. They can be small (a feature added to an existing application), big (ERP installed), or external (collaborative forecasting). They can be at the start of a project ("We got the money!") or at the end ("System is up and running!"). Whatever they are, celebrate them! --Wes Melling

Humayun Beg, TAC Thought Leader, has more than 18 years of extensive experience in business IT management, technology deployment, and risk management. He has significant experience in all aspects of systems management, software development, and project management, and has held key positions in directing major IT initiatives and projects.

Beth Cohen, TAC Thought Leader, has more than 20 years of experience building strong IT delivery organizations from both the user and vendor perspectives. Having worked as a technologist for BBN, the company that literally invented the Internet, she not only knows where technology is today but where it's headed in the future.

Wes Melling, TAC Expert, has more than 40 years of IT experience with a focus on enterprise IT strategies. He is founder and principal of Value Chain Advisors, a consulting boutique specializing in manufacturing supply-chain optimization. He has been a corporate CIO, a Gartner analyst, and a product strategist at increasingly senior levels.

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