In today\u2019s fast-moving digital world, creating relationships that enable and sustain collaboration to solve problems or create new value is a key to success. And as I\u2019ve blogged before, CIOs need to create relationships between their IT teams and the business stakeholders to achieve more effective communication. Not an easy objective, considering how siloed most organizations are these days. I want to share with you some of the successful strategies deployed at Jacobs Engineering to build such relationships.\nI learned of these strategies in one of my conversations with Cora Carmody, who served as CIO of global technology companies including Jacobs Engineering Group and SAIC for the past 19 years, leaving the company in 2015. Jacobs Engineering provides technical, professional and construction services to industrial, commercial and government clients.\nBoundaryless culture\nCarmody explained that Jacobs\u2019 leadership is committed to diversity and has a longstanding passion for being a relationship-based business. In 2012, they implemented an internal social network called JacobsConnect. It successfully drove a deeper sense of personal relationships across the company all around the world, regardless of whether the employees were in IT, project management, engineering or one of the other support functions.\n\u201cJacobs strove to have a boundaryless culture, and this really helped to drive the boundaries down,\u201d said Carmody.\nWork relationships: it\u2019s not just about business\nThere\u2019s an idea being shaped that IT is moving from a system of records to a system of engagements, and I think that\u2019s clearly the direction companies are going with new technology investments. If you think about engagement, it\u2019s about making a connection to customers and to employees. Basically, to connect, you need to understand their point of view and incorporate it into the way you do business. Otherwise, you won\u2019t achieve as deep a connection and will diminish value from investments.\nWhen Jacobs implemented its social network, JacobsConnect, the company's previous CEO said, \u201cWe build relationships based on what we like as people. I don\u2019t watch cat videos, but I\u2019m not about to block people who want to talk about their cats on Jacobs Connect.\u201d She says that decision set the tone for a deep connectivity.\nThe company's previous CEO recognized that humans work through common affinities that may not have anything to do with their job or the work they do. We\u2019re people first, even at work, and we connect on those affinities, whether they\u2019re work-related or not.\nCarmody was quick to point out the impact of relationship building on teamwork. \u201cYou\u2019re more willing to go out on a limb and do a favor or pick up the slack for a team member if you know and like that person. Building relationships helps everyone get along better, and that makes a more productive environment.\u201d\nBuilding IT connections to the business\nThe relationship improvement program through Jacobs Connect then led to Carmody establishing a career-improvement program in IT. This mechanism was designed to not only help the individuals in IT but also to build or accelerate IT\u2019s connections to key decision makers and business stakeholders throughout the company.\nThe mechanism was hinged on two programs: (a) a leadership and work\/life program (LIWL) and (b) setting up cross-functional IT mentoring teams (referred to as \u201cCross-F\/IT teams\u201d). The LIWL program for the IT group included business topics, technology topics, interpersonal topics and Myers-Briggs materials.\nAs I\u2019ve blogged many times, CIOs these days recognize that a significant IT challenge is determining how to build connections to the business users and decision makers. Carmody says the Jacobs Cross-F\/IT mentoring teams in IT attracted people outside of IT who were engaged in classic teams. They liked what they saw happening in IT and started participating in IT\u2019s LIWL program. The CEO, chairman and CFO, all of whom have since left the company, even participated in town hall meetings in the program. \u201cSo our LIWL series gave IT more access to the leaders of the business,\u201d recalled Carmody.\nCross-functional mentoring creates safe climate for growth\nCarmody told me the Cross-F\/IT mentoring teams program was designed around the concept of a personal board of directors. A topic was selected each month for each IT employee to discuss with his or her personal board of directors comprised of cross-functional, diverse advisors from within IT. The topics focused on enabling the employee to take action on career improvement.\n\u201cA lot of people think their manager will see to it that they get promoted. But that\u2019s a bit of a fallacy,\u201d said Carmody. \u201cPeople need to own their own career, not delegate it to anybody, even a manager. The Cross-F\/IT teams challenge an employee\u2019s individual development plan and how to have discussions with managers on the next career step.\u201d\nJacobs has a large, globally distributed IT group, so the program also aimed to bind people across IT globally. Carmody recalls that one of the Cross-F\/IT teams had people in seven different time zones around the world, and the program worked nicely in enabling them to get to know each other. She adds that it creates a safe climate within an organization when you know more people personally.\nBottom line\nIt takes hard work for any company to be successful. We spend more time with the people we work with than we do with our own families. And if we can\u2019t have fun, enjoy and be comfortable with the people we work with, then we won\u2019t be \u201chappy\u201d at work and it won\u2019t lead to a successful workplace.\nIn my next blog post, I\u2019ll share some of the initiatives and outcomes at Jacobs Engineering that directly benefited from the relationship-building and boundary-removing strategies described here.\n\nThe company\u2019s previous[SRL1]\u00a0\n\n\n\n\u00a0[SRL1]Please clarify that this initiative was led by Jacobs\u2019 previous CEO.