I like to win. For me winning is not so much about beating the other person or team, although that’s nice, it’s about taking on a difficult challenge and succeeding. When I take on a challenge I like to think of that challenge as a game and when it comes to games I have learnt over the years that if I want to win there are two things I need to know before you even begin to play. They are, what are the rules of the game and how do you win? If you do not understand the answers to these questions for the game you are actually playing then it is really hard to win. It would be like turning up to a chess tournament with your cricket gear having not played chess for a number of years. I know, it’s a silly example, but it is amazing how many of us turn up to the game of IT leadership not knowing the rules and not understanding how to win. So, what are the rules for IT leadership and how do you win?
Rule 1. Success is about other people’s perceptions of your competence and the value you add much more than it is about any objective reality.
Rule 2. You will be allocated a certain level of resources which you can use to win the game and you’ll probably think they are insufficient but that’s all you’ll get anyway.
Rule 3. The organization that you support will have many competing and often conflicting needs and you need to meet all of them.
Rule 4. IT is a service business and the rules of service dynamics will apply. You can use them to your advantage or you can ignore them but like gravity they will always be there.
What are the rules of service dynamics? Simply they are that success comes from creating customer advocates. You create customer advocates by providing great customer service. Engaged employees provide better customer service than unengaged employees. (if you are interested in more detail, read this blog IT Value Chain.
So if those are the rules then how do you win? You win by applying the rules of service dynamics and utilising the resources you have been allocated to meet all of the needs of the organisation for IT services. As there are many competing needs in the organisation you begin by focusing on ensuring the most basic needs are met first. Once these are met you can then move on and meet the next most basic needs and so on until all needs are met (Read this blog IS Hierarchy of Needs).
Because winning is about perception you know you are winning when your customers begin to tell you that you are doing a great job and that you are important, perhaps critical to their success. When they start to tell others (ie advocate for you) then you know you are really going well.
So, those are the rules and this is how you win, now it’s up to you to begin to play the game. Where do you start? The same place you start when playing all games. You begin by devising a strategy, building your skills, reviewing progress and learning but that’s a story for another time.