Sunday, June 21, 2009

IT Leadership

Leadership Musings #1
Why isn't everyone a leader? There may be no simple magic formula but here are some ideas.
  1. Measure. Measure project metrics for cost, quality, and time, and compare data over time as well as with similar projects across the company. Measurement allows companies to spread efficiency across the company. It also enables you to demonstrate the value you bring to the company.
  2. Hire motivated people. People are motivated when they are learning. Hire people that fit about 90% of requirements and know enough to be successful. Leave 10% for them to look forward to as learning opportunities.
  3. Require people to change roles within the company every few years. A new role is a great way for people in large companies to learn more and stay motivated.
  4. Establish common IT processes, standards, templates, and tools to maintain minimum quality standard and minimize learning curve as employees change roles within the company.
  5. Expect efficiency improvement. Cost, Quality, and Turnaround time of similar projects should improve over time using lessons learned, best practices, reuse, vendor negotiation etc. If you did the same thing the same way as last year its not good enough for business because your competitors are improving.
  6. Give people an incentive to reduce cost. Stock options may not work. Both "Carrot" and "Stick" incentives work.
  7. Use interns. You do not have the time or money to not have an internship program.
  8. Establish oversight roles and quality standards. Standards are not good enough unless they have enough details to "guarantee" the best outcome.
  9. Establish quality initiatives. You are not doing it right if you consider quality and process as an overhead and not essential to stay competitive and reduce cost.
  10. Who owns quality and how is quality assured? Every employee should know the answer for their department and the answer is not a question.
  11. Document. Reduce dependence on people for success by documenting process, procedures, and information.
  12. Assess consultants. As knowledge is moved from people to processes, move to low cost vendors or ask for rate reduction.
  13. Justify investments. Every investment is a business decision. Leaders don't just make decisions, they also check if expected results were achieved and learn from lessons.
  14. Reduce cost through shared services. Establish internal groups that provide similar services across business units. This is more obvious for business functions such as accounting, HR, and M&A but less obvious for IT functions such as Project Management, Testing, and Systems Integration.
  15. Empower Enterprise Architecture, Auditing, and QA teams. Independent decisions and reporting require an independent chain of command.
  16. Let them run the show. Run initiatives like startup companies. Give them a mission, responsibility, and authority.
  17. Maintain the human touch. "Happy employees equal happy customers" is true even for employees that never talk directly with customers. Unhappy employees are like a bad apple.
  18. Leadership is not in your genes. Keep improving. Keep learning.
  19. Think Business. IT is a part of the Business. The business doesn't care about SOA, AJAX, or Social Media. The business does care about competitive edge, turnaround time, productivity, and quality.
  20. Maintain integrity. Leaders are role models that people look up to. The problem may not be you, sometimes its the wrong company.