8 fatal flaws to IT transformation

Is your IT transformation progressing at the rate you would like? Has it stagnated or hit so much resistance along the way that you are doubting if it will happen?

The following flaws can derail your IT transformation initiative.

1. Collapsing a service methodology versus service culture

A service culture is the foundation of your organisation’s journey up the IT Maturity Curve. It is the solid base that is required to move from and creates a perception of IT with the rest of the organisation that will allow you to progress into trusted partner relationships. Very often we collapse a service methodology with a service culture. A service methodology is one of the ingredients but it is not the culture.

A service culture must have a consistency across the organisation in terms of how we set and manage expectations, a common approach to creating positive clients experience, consistent messaging from all areas of IT to ensure a high level of professionalism and your clients will receive and be satisfied with the service they receive no matter who they are working with in IT.

In a service culture, your IT team will be just as concerned with the experience they create for the client as they are with the technical delivery.

2. Not marketing the value IT brings to the organisation

As you build a better IT, you might think that the rest of the organisation will obviously realise it and take notice. We think the old phrase “If you build a better mouse trap, the world will beat a path to your door” applies, it doesn’t!

You must be good at engaging the rest of the organisation and then educating and communicating the value you are delivering to them. This must be business, strategic, and organisational value and not technical in nature.

IT must take the time know and understand its client beyond their technical needs. The marketing initiatives must be outcome focused messages based on the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) that the client is interested in.

Our teams must be trained to deliver value in ‘informal marketing’ which is all the daily interactions that they have with our clients as well as ‘formal marketing’ which are the marketing plans that need to be developed alongside your new initiatives. These create buy in as you roll them out to your organisation.

What upcoming initiatives do you have the require a marketing plan? As you develop your digital strategy, do you have plan to get the rest of the organisation to buy-in?

3. Thinking from effect rather than cause

Having a mindset of accountability and responsibility is critical to driving any transformation. Our mindset must be one that thinks from no matter what happens, we are the ones that are responsible for it.

In the relationship of ‘cause and effect’, if you think from being at effect there is nothing you can do as the source of the issue is external and if we think from being cause we will think from how can we alter the circumstance.

The areas where this tends to happen most often are when IT team members don’t feel empowered and they blame leadership or feel they have to wait and not show any initiative or at a higher context it is when IT blames the rest of the organisation for not ‘getting it’. It can’t stop with they don’t get it, we must think from what are we doing that they don’t get it or what do we need to do so they do get it.

4. Assuming you are higher on the maturity curve than you are

To create a plan to get you where you want to go, you must be very clear on where you are starting the journey. A common mistake that causes stumbles along the way is assessing that state of the organisation as higher on the maturity curve than it actually is, this typically happens as we all have teams and individuals that sit and operate from the higher levels of the maturity curve, but when assessing the starting point of your journey we must always look from where is the critical mass of your organisation sitting.

5. Neglecting the basic as you progress

Execute the fundamentals and don’t drop the ball. As we progress our organisations and start operating as strategic partners and innovative anticipators, we must never neglect or take for granted that we must still execute the basics on a daily basis.

The fundamental services we provide gave us the entry into higher levels of relationship and if we stop delivering those well, it will impact and bring down the image of IT as our overall ability to deliver.

6. All plan, no action

Get the journey started. An entrepreneurial mindset of getting into action and adapting along the way will lead us down the journey. Don’t be one of the organisations that spends two years planning before doing any execution that realises the plan you started two years ago has now become outdated when you are about to launch it.

Years ago, Joe Mancuso, the founder of the Center for Entrepreneurial Management in New York taught that entrepreneurs think from “ready, fire, aim” as opposed to “ready, aim, fire”, which is similar for what we are seeing today in concepts like minimal viable product. It applies to your organisational transformation as well as your projects.

7. Losing focus on the human side of the IT equation

The talent and capabilities of our team are critical to our IT transformation journey. As part of the research in writing the book ‘Unleashing The Power of IT: Bringing People, Business and Technology Together’, we interviewed 131 CIOs of high performing IT organisations and asked them what skills are needed to succeed as a technology professional today.

They gave us 12 skills and only one was technical. What were previously considered ‘soft skills’ are now the ‘core skills’ to our success. Don’t allow the development of these skills and your people get displaced on your priority list. For your journey to succeed, your team’s ability to build relationships, collaborate, innovate, lead, influence, and think strategically, etc are vital to your success.

8. Thinking from an IT rather than organisational perspective

The days of aligning with the business are done. IT is not separate from the business, we must think from, strategise, plan, and operate from ‘we are the business.’ As innovators sitting atop the IT Maturity Curve, we lead the business!

Lou Markstrom is the co-author of Unleashing the Power of IT: Bringing People, Business, and Technology Together, published by Wiley as part of its CIO series. Over the past 25 years, he has worked with over 35,000 people to create high performance organisations, teams and individuals.