As we enter into 2010, my mind is pulled in two seemingly disparate yet interrelated directions. After all the project planning, goal setting for staff members and financial budgeting in preparation for 2010, it is time to focus on two guiding principles: Staying Above the Frey and Sweating the Small Stuff.
Staying Above the Frey
Anyone in an IT leadership position knows how easy it is to get caught up in the plethora of daily issues confronting a typical technology department. There is never a shortage of small tweaks that need to be made, patches that need to applied, configurations that could be better, infrastructure upgrades that need to made etc... Each of these things is of critical concern to someone. It is very easy to find yourself engaged in never ending meetings arranged to address small fires. These types of issues are important and no doubt contribute to the overall stability of your operation. They also represent the types of issues for which you as a leader should hold your people accountable and insist on execution without your immediate involvement. Continuously jumping into daily operations is a huge distracter from your ability to set the broader course of technology operations. As a leader, focus on the overall program of projects your different teams are involved in. Just like the Director of a symphony, ensure that each team is working separately yet towards a common goal that you have defined. Make sure your team understands the overall vision for your organizations technology operations, give them the tools, training and support they need to execute and stay out of the way. Keep an ear to the ground and an eye to the sky making sure the teams are not straying from the goal, that energy is being spent in the correct areas and that progress is being made. Be flexible in your vision, making sure that you understand your organizations business objectives and adjust course when necessary. All sounds great in theory, just like the resolution to lose 50 pounds by summer. Sticking with it on a daily basis when temptations arise is harder than it seems.
Sweat the Small Stuff
A more accurate depiction of this goal is probably sweating the correct small stuff. Toping this list is focusing on customer service and support levels with respect to technology operations. The perceptions of users will drive our realities in technology operations. Pursue a relentless commitment to customer service. Take every opportunity to help an end user that you can get, listen to them, talk to them, and embrace their criticisms. Conversations your end users have regarding their satisfaction with your organizations technology operations can serve as your canary in the coal mine. Make every effort to stay in tune with the general feeling of your user base. Try as much as possible to interact with end users and help them through their day. Going the extra mile and doing the small things for the users will buy you much, much more than it costs so invest heavily.