Q: I agree with your rules for IT leadership but want to know about strategies or methods for implementing them. What steps would you recommend I take?
A: The first step for implementing the safe IT leadership rules is to consider the effort as a change initiative. As such, make sure that you have some team members (in and out of IT) who can help you assess your current positioning, set priorities and plan a road map that makes sense for your company’s maturity level.
Once you have your objectives identified, define success carefully, both in terms of measurements and a clear vision of the end state. The next step is to craft a story that will resonate with the needs of those who need to change.
In terms of hitting the ground running, make sure that you connect the desired behavioral changes to business initiatives and objectives that have momentum. For example, a new acquisition could focus attention on architecture and integration.
Q: In your column you talk about helping staff learn from their mistakes. Can you provide suggestions for turning a mistake into a “teaching moment”?
A: The best mistakes are ones that are just large enough to make an impression but small enough to contain the damage. The best way to encourage learning is through effective delegation.
A client of mine illustrates the importance of delegation by asking the following question during job interviews: “If one of your direct reports was insistent on trying an approach you knew would fail, what would you do?” Of course, the answer is to let him try his approach in a manner that limits the risk to himself or the company.
Once an issue occurs, make sure that people learn from their experiences. Do this by asking, “How are we going to make sure this never happens again?” Make sure that you follow up to see that the root cause analysis is performed and the remediation plan is implemented.