An important part of the job of being an IT manager is the ability to make good decisions. Lots of good decisions. In fact, the ability to make more good decisions than bad decisions is arguably what allows an IT manager to keep his / her job. Now the only problem is that it’s really, really hard to make good decisions all the time. To help you do a better job of this, I’m going to share with you four decision making tools that will help you every time you have to make a decision.
A New Way Of Making Decisions
IT managers need a new way to make correct decisions. Our ultimate goal should be to find ways to make the right decision more often than not. One way to do this is to adopt the “evidence based decision making” approach. This form of decision making rejects using gut feels and relying on past limited personal experience and instead is based on evidence and logic.
The problem that most IT managers run into when they try to apply evidence based decision making to their organizations is that it runs counter to the way that things are currently done. Every company has its share of stories about gutsy managers who just knew what the right thing to do was, and did it. What we forget are the stories about the managers who thought that they knew what to do and ended up doing the wrong thing.
Ask For Evidence
IT managers are always being presented with requests for something. More often than not it is for assistance with a project, but it can also be for resources or even simply for permission to proceed. You need to take a careful look at each of these requests.
When an IT manager is using the evidence-based approach to making decisions, he or she needs to ask the people who are making the request for evidence. They are proposing doing something, they need to be able to prove to you that by taking the action that they want to take, good things will happen. If they can’t prove it, then you need to reject their request.
Look At Logic
When plans are presented to an IT manager, they are often backed up with the results of surveys, charts and graphs of data, and lots of other impressive looking results. When presented with this type of information, IT managers need to be on the alert.
All too often in our very busy lives we tend to accept what is presented to us at face value. What we really need to be doing is taking a step back and looking more closely at the underlying data.
The question that you need to be asking yourself is if the results that have been drawn from the data really make sense. Are there any gaps or leaps in logic that really just don’t hold up? You’ll be amazed at how often you’ll find things that don’t support the conclusions that have been reached. When this happens, you need to send the team making the request back to the drawing board.
Experiment & Reward
Not every project is going to succeed. In fact, in the world of IT some projects fail in a spectacular fashion. Things really don’t have to be this way. If IT managers could become better decision-makers then a lot of this could be avoided.
One way to avoid big IT project failures is to encourage small IT project failures. That’s not as bad as it may sound. IT managers need to create an environment in which employees are encouraged to start pilot projects and to try out new ideas using trials before the IT manager has to commit to a much larger project.
Many of these smaller projects will fail. This is a good thing – far better to have a small project fail and learn from it than have a much larger project fail and learn nothing. IT managers need to reward IT staff that work on projects that fail – everyone needs to see that there is much to be learned from each project no matter how it turns out.
Perhaps the simplest way for IT managers to make better decisions more of the time is for them to have one simple realization. If an IT manager can understand that they don’t know it all, that there is still a lot that they need to learn, then they’ll be able to make better decisions.
Far too often IT managers assume that they know everything that they need to know in order to make the right decision. However, the reality is much different – there is no way that they know what they don’t know. Admitting that you don’t know it all is the first step in being open to collecting more information and becoming an IT manager who makes better decisions.
What All Of This Means For You
All too often IT managers lose their job because they made bad decisions. It turns out that a big part of being the IT manager is the ability to make a lot of good decisions. What is needed are tools that will help a IT manager to do a better job of making the correct decision.
Four such tools exist and can be used by IT managers. The first is to demand evidence when a proposal is made. The next is to test the logic behind any proposal that is made. To ensure that the IT department can support the IT manager in making good decisions, the IT manager needs to allow trial programs to be run. These trials need to be allowed to fail and IT employees have to be rewarded for uncovering information before a bigger investment was made. Finally, IT managers need to teach their staff that they don’t know everything and everyone must respect the fact that there is much more for them to learn.
Although IT managers deal with technology, much of their day-to-day job has to do with teaching. In order to make better decisions, they need to take the time to teach their IT team how to look at opportunities and how to use the information that is available to make the best decisions each and every time.
Question For You: How do you think that an IT manager should react to an IT trial program that failed?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
When I work with IT Leaders who are looking for ways to get that next promotion, I tell them that they are going to need to demonstrate leadership. This is an easy thing for me to say and a very hard thing for them to do. Complicating matters even more is the fact that IT managers are finding themselves drafted onto team that they are just members of, not leaders of. What’s an IT manager to do?