Steve Jobs Believed In Innovation

Steve Jobs Believed In Innovation
Image Credit: Celestine Chua

I’m pretty sure that by now your management has more than once asked you to get your team to be more innovative. I’m pretty sure that we’re all on board here, I mean who wouldn’t want to have the IT manager skills that would allow your team to come up with better ideas? However, the problem is that it’s never been all that clear just exactly HOW we are supposed to be more innovative. It turns out that the secret to solving this problem might have something to do with how we use our time…

One Day Per Month

If this innovation thing is really important to you (and your management), it sure seems like you should be willing to make a serious commitment to it. This means carving out a section of your time to spend doing innovation stuff. This, of course, leads to the really big question – just exactly how much time should you be spending on being innovative? I’m sad to say that most IT manager training doesn’t give us the answer to this question.

I can’t tell you that I’ve got a magical answer that will work for everyone. However, I do have a proposal to make. It goes like this: take one day each month and dedicate both your time and your teams time to focusing on nothing but innovation for that entire day. Hey, I didn’t say that this was going to be easy!

If you did take a day off each month to be innovative, what would that really mean for you and your team? First off, it means that your phones are set on “silent” for one full day. Nobody gets to check their email – this includes you! Next, you’ll need to gather the entire team together for the day. The goal is to focus on innovation and you don’t want anything else getting in your way.

What To Do During That Day

Great, you’ve decided to take your team offline for a full day and you’ve pulled them together. Ok, let’s make that innovation thing happen! As you may have guessed, it really doesn’t happen like that. Your job as an IT manager is to create an environment in which innovation can happen – you can’t actually make it happen. Think of this as sorta an innovation-based IT team building exercise.

In order to provide the opportunity for innovation to visit your team, what you can do is many different things. What you really want to do is to provide your team with a chance to develop their creativity – this is what causes innovation to happen. This can be done by having the team play a game. Get the members of your team to talk about something that they really like – everyone may be surprised by how different they all are!

One other thing that you might want to tackle during these innovation sessions are things that are causing your team problems. No, you don’t want to allow the session to turn into one big complaint session. However, if there is something that is causing the team problems, now is the time to have the entire team search for creative ways to address this type of problem.

What All Of This Means For You

That innovation thing that we all want to happen for our team needs just a little bit of help from us in order to show up. If we don’t find the time to allow our team to work at being innovative, then we’re never going to be able to reap the benefits of innovative thinking.

In order make innovation happen for your team, one thing that you can do is to pick a day each month and dedicate it as being your “innovation day” . On that day, you can have your team unplug and disconnect from everything else. Once they’ve done this, you can bring them together and the team can spend its time being innovative.

Innovation will not occur by itself. As the IT manager, you are going to have to find ways to allow innovation to work its way into your team. Dedicating time to being innovative is one way to make it happen. Give this suggestion a try and see if indeed it can transform your team into an innovation engine!

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think one day a month is enough – should you be spending more time on being innovative?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental IT Leader Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental IT Leader Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m pretty sure that by now your management has more than once asked you to get your team to be more innovative. I’m pretty sure that we’re all on board here, I mean who wouldn’t want to have the IT manager skills that would allow your team to come up with better ideas? However, the problem is that it’s never been all that clear just exactly HOW we are supposed to be more innovative. It turns out that the secret to solving this problem might have something to do with how we use our time…

As IT managers, it’s our responsibility to use our IT manager skills and our IT teams to ensure that the company’s tools and IT systems are always up and operating correctly. If those tools are the primary way that the company makes money, then our job is doubly important. That’s why a recent system error that occurred on options exchanges run by IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) should capture our attention.

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Is It Time To Expand Your Team To Mexico?

by drjim on January 22, 2015

IT Managers are starting to discover nearshoring in Mexico

IT Managers are starting to discover nearshoring in Mexico

Image Credit: SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget

As an IT manager, you are faced with a number of significant challenges. One of these is to use your IT manager skills to get the most productive work out of your team given the budget that has been provided to you. There are a lot of different ways to go about doing this; however, there is one that you may not have thought of. It’s a relatively new concept: nearshoring. How would you feel with having a part of your IT team located in Mexico?

Why Mexico?

In the world of IT, when you wanted to grow your team cheaply, our IT manager training told us that the answer always used to be “go to India”. Or more lately, “go to China”. Sadly, as with all “one size fits all” answers, what used to work no longer seems to do the trick. What has happened is that the value of the Chinese yuan is rising and competition for skilled Indian IT workers is heating up resulting in a labor shortage. It sure seems like it is time to go looking for another solution.

For U.S. based IT managers; it turns out that the answer to how you can grow your IT team without breaking the bank may be closer than you would think: Mexico. The biggest advantage that Mexico brings to the table is that it is so very close to the U.S. In a pinch, an IT manager can always hop on a plane and a few hours later be meeting with his or her team to do some IT team building in Mexico. The same can’t be said for IT teams in India or China.

Mexico has a couple of other advantages going for it. The first of these is that way back in 1994, the U.S. and Mexico signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) . What this means for you is that goods and services imported from Mexico can enter the U.S. duty free – one less hassle for you to have to worry about. Another advantage of basing part of your IT team in Mexico is that Mexico has a strong reputation for protecting intellectual property. In the world of IT this is a critical feature that India and China can’t always match.

Four Issues About Mexico To Be Aware Of

All of that being said, basing part of your IT team in Mexico is not like placing that team somewhere remotely in the U.S. There are going to be differences. As an IT manager you are going to have to be aware of these differences and you are going to have to adjust your management style to deal with it. Here are four issues that you’ll need to address:

  • Mexico Is Not Cheap: Now, it’s also not as expensive as doing business in the U.S. However, your IT budget is not going to go as far in Mexico as it does in, say, China. You should expect to pay roughly 40% more for your IT staff in Mexico than you would for the same staff in China.
  • Take Your Time: The one thing that you don’t want to do is to just show up in Mexico and set up a big IT team. Take your time and do this slowly. Start with a couple of team members and then grow the team over time. This will give your team time to get used to working with the Mexico team and vice versa.
  • Security Is Important: Mexico is not the U.S. There are still some major physical security issues associated with doing business in Mexico, especially depending on where your team will be located (there are more problems up North). Plan on paying for security guards to keep your Mexico offices and staff safe and secure.
  • Local Holidays Count: It can be too easy to start to treat Mexico like an extension of the U.S. Don’t do this. Mexico has its own culture and that is different from the U.S. culture. A good example of this is that Mother’s Day is a big deal in Mexico: make sure that you give employees that day off and try to do something special for their mothers.

What All Of This Means For You

IT managers always have limited budgets with which to work. What this means is that they are always on the lookout for ways to make their limited budgets go farther. One new way to make this happen is called nearshoring and it involves having part of their team be in Mexico.

Mexico offers U.S. based IT managers with some unique opportunities. It’s located close to the U.S. and can be easily reached. The North American Free Trade Agreement allows good and services to be exchanged with no import duty. IT managers do need to be aware of a few things. Costs may be similar to the U.S., building a team in Mexico should be done slowly, physical security matters, and you need to respect the local culture.

In this business, opportunities to get more done with the same amount of money come along far too rarely. Reaching out to Mexico to build part of your team is an idea that every IT manager needs to consider. There are, of course, a number of issues that you need to be aware of. However, in order to build a better team, this is yet one another option that may allow you stretch your IT budget further..

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How much of your team in terms of a percentage do you think you could manage being in Mexico?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental IT Leader Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental IT Leader Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

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