IT Managers Know That Strategies Never Last

by drjim on November 3, 2011

Image CreditEvery IT team's strategy eventually is used up

Every IT team's strategy eventually is used up

As an IT manager, one of the biggest management challenges that you’ll ever face is setting an effective strategy that your entire team can rally behind. As though this wasn’t difficult enough, there’s a little secret about IT strategies that nobody probably ever took the time to tell you about. They don’t last.

A Little Thing Called Change

So why is it that our most carefully crafted IT strategies don’t last? Well the answer to that question is actually pretty easy: change happens. That’s right, no matter how much of your world you think that you control, the reality is that you don’t control the changes that happen in it.

What this means for your team’s IT strategy is that although when you created it, it was probably a good fit for the team and what you wanted to accomplish, it soon isn’t. Because of changes in your team’s environment, even if you are managing a dream team you’re going to need a new IT strategy.

Change can sneak in using a whole bunch of different disguises. Sometimes it’s quite obvious: the CEO announces that the company is changing direction and the project that your team was working on is most defiantly part of the old way of doing business. Other times it’s a bit more subtle: a product that your team was developing IT systems to support goes out of favor with customers and so the company decides to sell it off to another company.

No matter the reasons for the change, it will happen. When it does, you need to first be aware that your current IT strategy is no longer going to do the trick and then you need to have the IT manager skills that will be required to allow you to take action.

Why Strategy Is An Ongoing Process

Effective IT managers make a fundamental realization early on in their careers. They come to understand that developing a strategy for their IT teams to follow is not a one-shot deal. Rather it is simply one part of an ongoing process.

This understanding allows them to always be taking action in support of the ongoing process that is IT strategy development. They know that they need to keep their eyes open and constantly be examining both the external customer environment and the internal work environment for changes that will tell them that it’s time to chuck their current IT strategy and start to develop the next one.

If you feel that this is a task that you simply don’t have the time to do or to do well, then you need to take action. You need to find a member of your team who does have the required time and tell them that you are entrusting them with a new assignment: detect change when it occurs and tell you about it. This will fill them with pride and will give you a chance to practice your delegating skills.

What All Of This Means For You

Setting an IT strategy for your team to execute is a demanding task. Once done, it’s very easy for an IT manager to sit back and assume that his or her primary task going forward will simply be to make sure that the team is executing the strategy.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that IT strategies don’t last. Due to a little thing called change, the conditions that the strategy was designed to deal with will go away. They will be replaced with a completely different set of conditions and this means that it will once again become your responsibility to develop a new strategy to deal with them.

Realizing that developing an IT strategy for your team is an ongoing process is a key part of being an effective IT manager and demonstrating leadership. Understanding that it is a constant process is what it takes to be a great IT manager.

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

Question For You: How often do you think that you should re-evaluate your team’s IT strategy to see if it needs to be changed?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

A quick question for you: are you afraid to fail? Would you be willing to take on responsibility for leading an IT team that might not be a success? I’m willing to bet that a lot of us would say “no” – our company’s IT managers who are perfect are rewarded while IT managers who fail are kicked to the curb. However, I’m going to tell you that you’re wrong – get ready to fail if you want to succeed.

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