By Sanjay Khatnani and Vijay Khatnani, Managing Partners, J2 Solutions

Last month, we reviewed best practices for overcoming barriers to a successful IT program. Today, in part two of this two-part series, we’re taking the topic one step further by delving into the key foundational element that ultimately sets the stage for IT success: company culture.

 

The culture of a company is made up of its unique set of values, beliefs, assumptions, experiences and habits. It’s dynamic—and dependent on a number of moving parts, including leadership style, policies and individual personalities. As a business component, culture has the power to shape workplace relationships, employee satisfaction, work processes and more.

Let’s discuss how culture can mean the difference between an inefficient IT function that’s slow to deliver results and one that’s seen as a trusted advisor to all lines of business within the organization.

An IT department that delivers on its promise in an efficient and productive way is one that’s grounded in a healthy, thriving culture. To that end, here are four best practices we recommend for creating the blueprint of a successful company culture:

1. Set the Vision

A successful IT department is defined by leaders that have a clear and consistent vision, supported by guiding principles, well-defined goals and even rules of engagement for how to interact with coworkers. A team that works as a cohesive unit can achieve ultra-high performance ratings more often than not.

2. Encourage Autonomy

One critical factor to a project’s success is the timeliness of the outputs. But nothing will slow progress to a crawl more than a project run by a committee of multiple members—too many chefs in the kitchen, as they say—each potentially with a different stake in the game. Discussions drag on, disagreements ensue and decisions are delayed—not to mention the time it takes to coordinate calendars.

Avoid this common trap early by building out a project team with clearly defined roles and responsibilities that allow for some level of autonomy. Establish decision-making rules and boundaries to ensure some governance over the project, but enable team members to think for themselves, trusting in their own expertise to move a project forward without having to achieve consensus with each decision that needs to be made.

3. Welcome New Ideas

As technology continues to evolve at lightning speed, so, too, should your IT team. Though the business may be comfortable using the safe technology of today—the one with proven results and already-established processes—it’s up to your IT department to keep an eye on newer, more promising technologies coming down the pike.

Establish a culture where new ideas are encouraged, not squelched. It is this forward-thinking mentality that not only brings innovative new solutions to life, but also keeps your IT team feeling invigorated and motivated.

4. Establish Informal Relationships with Business Partners

Last month we talked about the damaging nature of perceptions—in particular the commonly held one that the IT department is nothing more than a roadblock to the success of its peer groups. More often than not, the problem stems from the formal, all-business type of relationship that IT tends to have with their business partners. Common interactions usually include requirements discussions, service level agreement negotiations and sign-offs—in essence, creating an environment where each side is put on the defensive, advocating for their respective causes.

Instead, foster a culture where informal, more personal interactions are encouraged across the organization. By taking the all-business approach down a notch and engaging more socially inviting interactions, your IT team will be viewed less as a means to an end and more as a team of people with thoughts and ideas that support a common goal. Put a face to your IT department; give it personality to facilitate more unified, agreeable relationships across the business.

How has culture shaped the way your team operates? Have you employed any of the above tactics? If so, how have they helped?

By Sanjay Khatnani and Vijay Khatnani, Managing Partners, J2 Solutions

Last month, we reviewed best practices for overcoming barriers to a successful IT program. Today, in part two of this two-part series, we’re taking the topic one step further by delving into the key foundational element that ultimately sets the stage for IT success: company culture.

The culture of a company is made up of its unique set of values, beliefs, assumptions, experiences and habits. It’s dynamic—and dependent on a number of moving parts, including leadership style, policies and individual personalities. As a business component, culture has the power to shape workplace relationships, employee satisfaction, work processes and more.

Let’s discuss how culture can mean the difference between an inefficient IT function that’s slow to deliver results and one that’s seen as a trusted advisor to all lines of business within the organization.

An IT department that delivers on its promise in an efficient and productive way is one that’s grounded in a healthy, thriving culture. To that end, here are four best practices we recommend for creating the blueprint of a successful company culture:

  1. Set the Vision

A successful IT department is defined by leaders that have a clear and consistent vision, supported by guiding principles, well-defined goals and even rules of engagement for how to interact with coworkers. A team that works as a cohesive unit can achieve ultra-high-performance ratings more often than not.

  1. Encourage Autonomy

One critical factor to a project’s success is the timeliness of the outputs. But nothing will slow progress to a crawl more than a project run by a committee of multiple members—too many chefs in the kitchen, as they say—each potentially with a different stake in the game. Discussions drag on, disagreements ensue, and decisions are delayed—not to mention the time it takes to coordinate calendars.

Avoid this common trap early by building out a project team with clearly defined roles and responsibilities that allow for some level of autonomy. Establish decision-making rules and boundaries to ensure some governance over the project, but enable team members to think for themselves, trusting in their own expertise to move a project forward without having to achieve consensus with each decision that needs to be made.

  1. Encourage New Ideas

As technology continues to evolve at lightning speed, so, too, should your IT team. Though the business may be comfortable using the safe technology of today—the one with proven results and already-established processes—it’s up to your IT department to keep an eye on newer, more promising technologies coming down the pike.

Establish a culture where new ideas are encouraged, not squelched. It is this forward-thinking mentality that not only brings innovative new solutions to life, but also keeps your IT team feeling invigorated and motivated.

  1. Establish Informal Relationships with Business Partners

Last month we talked about the damaging nature of perceptions—in particular the commonly held one that the IT department is nothing more than a roadblock to the success of its peer groups. More often than not, the problem stems from the formal, all-business type of relationship that IT tends to have with their business partners. Common interactions usually include requirements discussions, service level agreement negotiations and sign-offs—in essence, creating an environment where each side is put on the defensive, advocating for their respective causes.

Instead, foster a culture where informal, more personal interactions are encouraged across the organization. By taking the all-business approach down a notch and engaging in more socially inviting interactions, your IT team will be viewed less as a means to an end and more as a team of people with thoughts and ideas that support a common goal. Put a face to your IT department; give it personality to facilitate more unified, agreeable relationships across the business.

How has culture shaped the way your team operates? Have you employed any of the above tactics? If so, how have they helped?

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