Coaching For It Managers Transcript

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Billions of dollars have been spent on technology in the last 20 years yet large scale IT projects continue to fail. …

Billions of dollars have been spent on technology in the last 20 years yet large scale IT projects continue to fail.

David Taylor, author of the Naked Leader books, says it’s because there’s paralysis in most IT departments.

Managers face too many choices, fear of getting it “wrong” and would rather debate, discuss and disagree than take action.

With IT such an important ingredient in business success, how can coaching help break through the paralysis and unleash the potential of your people and the value they can create?

Guests

* John Baschab, President Management Services, Technisource

* John Mooney, Associate Professor, Information Systems at the Grazadio School of Business, Pepperdine University

* Tim Phillips, President and Founder, Sense of Service

* David Taylor, Author, Naked Leader Series

Summary

Industry studies indicate that over 70% of all IT projects are abandoned before completion. A March 2007 survey released by CompTIA revealed that 28% of respondents felt poor communications were the primary factor behind IT project failures, 18% blamed insufficient resource planning, 13.2% said deadlines were unrealistic, and 10% sited lack of stakeholder sponsorship/support and poorly defined project requirements.

But what role do CIOs and other IT managers play in addressing these challenges? And how can coaches help?

In this show, guests share how the challenges of the past can be overcome, the steps CIOs and IT managers can take to manage projects successfully, and the role coaches can play in developing, growing, and guiding IT Leaders within organizations.

More in: Technology , Business
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  • 1. Insight on Coaching Coaching for IT Managers Transcript Prepared for: Prepared by: Insight Educational Consulting Ubiqus Reporting (IEC)
  • 2. Time Speaker Transcript 0:28 Tom Floyd Hello everyone and welcome to Insight on Coaching. Insight on Coaching explores the many facets, flavors, and sides of the emerging professional coaching field. I’m Tom Floyd; I’m the CEO of Insight Educational Consulting, and your host for today’s show. 0:42 Tom Floyd Well today’s show focuses on Coaching for IT Managers. Today’s show focuses on Coaching for Information Technology Managers. Billions of dollars have been spent on technology in the last 20 years yet large scale IT projects continue to fail. David Taylor, author the “The Naked Leader” books and someone with 25 years experience in IT says it’s because there’s paralysis in most IT departments. 1:10 Tom Floyd Managers face too many choices, are afraid of ‘getting it wrong” and would rather debate, discuss and disagree than take action. With information technology such an important ingredient in business success, our question of the day is can coaching help address the paralysis David references, along with some of these challenges? 1:34 Tom Floyd Well information technology is such an important ingredient in business success, and our question of the day really is: Can coaching help address the paralysis that David references, along with some of the other challenges that you’ll hear in a few minutes as well. 1:48 Tom Floyd Before we jump into our conversation with our guests though, as always, I’d like to share some statistics and data that our research team came up with to set the stage. And to begin I’d like to look at a few statistics about the IT industry overall. First one; several industry studies say that more then 70% of IT projects are abandoned before completion. 2 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 2 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 3. Time Speaker Transcript 2:16 Tom Floyd A 2003 report from the Standish Group, an IT research and consulting firm, found that 95 percent of application integration projects either fail to meet expected schedules, exceed planned budgets, or simply do not meet stated business goals In Britain, 7 in 10 government IT projects have failed, according to the chief information officer of the Department for Work and Pensions. A 1995 study, again by the Standish Group, showed 31% of software projects would be canceled before they ever get to the completion stage, and 53% will cost a staggering 189% of their original estimates. Wow is all I have to say to that. 3:00 Tom Floyd In Wisconsin, the Speaker of the State Assembly just announced the formation of a special taskforce to examine multiple failed computer projects within state agencies. And recent state reports show that nearly 170 million—certainly no small change there—was wasted developing state computer systems that eventually failed. 3:21 Tom Floyd Well a natural question that I’m guessing a lot of you had as I was reading through some of those is—how did some of these things happen? Well that’s the next piece a research team went out to explore. They tried to identify a few reasons why this happens. A 1998 University of Maryland study reported that several factors contributed to failed IT software development projects, which included: Lack of senior management commitment Lack of user involvement—both things I’ve certainly seen from a changed management perspective before— Lack of user requirement specifications Poor project planning and problems within the project team themselves. 3 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 3 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 4. Time Speaker Transcript Additionally, a web survey released by Comp TIA on March 6th revealed that: 4:02 Tom Floyd 28% of the more than 1,000 respondents for the survey said that poor communications were the primary factor behind those project failures 18% blamed insufficient resource planning. 13.2% said that deadlines were unrealistic. Almost 10% sited poor project requirements And lack of stakeholder buy in and support and undefined project success were other reasons sited in the survey. Some other interesting info that we found, these from a recent Deloitte Consulting Report. According to the report, out-of-control innovation projects are susceptible to the quot;bandwagon problem,quot; says Anthony Warren of the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Pennsylvania State University. It occurs, Warren says, when a project has so much exposure that the people who supported it can't let it fail. quot;They pour in more and more resources,” Warren explains. “Because it's so visible, every smart person wants to be on it. It sucks in more money and people, and no one will stop it.quot; Another factor listed in the report is the usual career development path for Chief Information Officers. That path tends to be technology-centric and does not typically prepare future CIOs for their role as integrators of business and technology, functioning as a conduit between the two worlds. Very little of their prior experience typically prepares them for their new responsibilities, and they may not know where to go for mentoring and counsel. 5:56 Tom Floyd The last thing that I’ll reference is a review from a new book and the book is called The Art of Installation and the Science of Implementation by Thomas Shubnell and it presents an eloquent view, to say the least, of the skills required by today’s IT leaders. Now according to Shubnell: New project leaders must be skilled and educated. They must assess inherent abilities to lead under duress as well as understand and communicate at any level in an organization. They must be born leaders and schooled tacticians with appropriate implements at their disposal and resources at the ready. The new project leaders must accept change, embrace change, advocate change, instigate change, react to change, and even incite change in the team and the organization. Again with my change management hat on—totally smiling here. 4 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 4 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 5. Time Speaker Transcript 6:46 Tom Floyd Well in the next hour we’ll look at what’s behind these statistics and we’ll also look at the special challenges facing IT today. Now of course, our primary focus is how coaches can be assistance to IT and business leaders alike during large scale technology roll outs. 7:01 Tom Floyd Well we have four guests with us today; John Baschab, John Mooney, Tim Phillips, and David Taylor. Let me give you a quick overview of each of their backgrounds and then we’ll dive right in. I’ll start with John Baschab. John is the President of Management Services for Technisource. John has written two books, The Executives Guide to Information Technology and The Executives Guide to Information Technology – Version 2. Both examine the keys to managing a successful IT department. Both are currently used at major universities, including Southern Methodist University, where John is an adjunct professor of engineering and management information systems. Welcome to the show, John. 7:39 John Baschab Thank you very much, Tom. 7:41 Tom Floyd Our next guess is John as well, John Mooney. John Mooney is an Associate Professor of Information Systems at the Grazadio School of Business at Pepperdine University here in California. He teaches, researches, and consults on business executive engagement in IT management. Some of his research interests include eBusiness transformation, IT outsourcing, assessment of IT business value, IT support for organizational transformation and effectiveness of IS management practices and electronic commerce. Welcome to the show, John. 8:13 John Mooney Thank you, Tom. Pleasure to be here. 5 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 5 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 6. Time Speaker Transcript 8:14 Tom Floyd Pleasure to have you here. Our next guest, Tim Phillips is the President and Founder of Sense of Service, a coaching firm in Houston. Tim is a recognized leader in the area of human capital performance management and business relationship development and maximization. Tim has helped a broad array of organizations including BP, Comsys, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Merrill Lynch, ESPN, Verizon Wireless, and the United States Marine Corps. Welcome to the show, Tim 8:39 Tim Phillips Thank you, Tom. Great to be with you. 8:41 Tom Floyd Great to have you. And our last guest David Taylor is with us from London England. He’s the author of the Naked Leader series of books. He’s a recognized global authority on leadership with over 25 years experience working inside companies throughout the world. And his clients include political and business leaders, royalty, and athletes. Welcome to the show, David. 9:00 David Taylor Hi, Tom. Thanks. 9:02 Tom Floyd Well as with all of our shows, this show will definitely be less of an interview and more of a conversation. We’ll be talking to all four of our guests as a group today. And to kick us off, the first question that I have is about the statistics on tech project failure – they really were stunning. If bridge or highway or ship building projects failed at this rate tens of thousands of lives would be lost! Why are the failure rates so high and why are they tolerated? David, let’s start with you. 6 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 6 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 7. Time Speaker Transcript 9:43 David Taylor Well I think the main reason is, Tom, that we’ve become obsessed with process and procedure and that’s taken precedence over really trusting our people. I mean as a result projects become confused, we forget very quickly what the project ever wanted to achieve, and people who are actually working on the project feel less and less empowered as the project goes on. And I suppose the whole thing seems separate from the overall aim of the company. It’s seen as an IT project, when in fact—in my opinion—there shouldn’t be anything such as an IT project. It should always be a project on behalf of the organization. 10:17 David Taylor And one final comment on that, I think that it’s in IT’s own hands to change this. So for example, if we worked more on informal relationships and communication, and the perception of IT throughout the organization, perhaps we could measure performance in different ways. If we did this, I think projects would improve dramatically. 10:37 Tom Floyd And when you say that it’s really in IT’s hands to change it, from your perspective, do you feel this is something that IT wants to change? 10:46 David Taylor I think that’s a very good question. I think what coaches can do is they can identify the differences between IT projects that succeed and CIOs that get on the board for example—and those that don’t. So for example, CIOs that get on the board don’t talk about IT being separate from the business. They treat themselves as being one with the business. And IT departments that are very well regarded have dropped this term, this crazy term, user. I don’t know—you know Tom, there’s only one other industry in the world that has the term user, it’s the narcotics industry. With that term, how we’re suppose to be expected to be liked and valued by other people in our organization, I don’t know. 7 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 7 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 8. Time Speaker Transcript 11:23 David Taylor And you know the final thing to do is service level agreements. For goodness sake, let’s put them in the bin and forget them. I mean, you try this, Tom, get your partner to cook you a lovely meal, and then when you finished it and she asked you whether you enjoyed it, just say to her it was satisfactory. You know, it met my expectations. These crazy words we use in organizations are nothing like reality and it’s time that we, basically, put away all these stupid measurement tools and started trusting the great people in IT to deliver. And that’s what those departments and projects that are succeeding are doing that those who are failing are not. 11:56 Tom Floyd I have a feeling if I said that my meal was satisfactory I wouldn’t be given many meals going forward. 12:01 David Taylor You’d be chased out of the house with a knife. 12:03 Tom Floyd Yes, pretty much. Probably screaming for my life and running down the street. I want to turn to everybody. Same question from your experiences, just to build upon what David said. Why are the failure rates so high? And why are they tolerated? John Mooney, let’s go with you. 12:22 John Mooney Thanks, Tom. I want to build on something that David said. David said that these are not IT projects; they should be viewed as projects on behalf of the organization. I have a similar, but different view, and that is—I agree with David, we should not view these projects that we’re pointing to as being failures as IT projects. I view them as being failures of IT enabled business projects. 8 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 8 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 9. Time Speaker Transcript 12:43 John Mooney In that, when we use the word failure it typically means it’s a failure to achieve the business impact that was intended from the IT system. Most of these projects, from a technology perspective, actually succeed. There may be some bumps along the way, but ultimately most IT systems do come to the end of their development lifecycle whereby they’re available and ready for use. Where, from my perspective, the real challenge continues to emerge is that, in many cases, perfectly good systems never get adopted by the users. And I’ll go with David and sasy that you have to be cautious with that term. But they are not adopted by members of the organization. And if they’re not adopted, if these systems are not actually used, they can never have the business impact that they’re intended to have. 13:33 Tom Floyd Well almost like just spending a bunch of money and putting it out there. And if it’s never used, well you know, I think a lot of people seem to think it’s Field of Dreams, if they build it they’ll come. Well if they don’t know about it and they don’t support it, they’re probably not going to use it. 13:44 John Mooney Correct. And there’s the fundamental flaw I think. If indeed we do succeed in building this, the users will come, it will be used. So then in terms of portioning blame and responsibility for this thing, if ultimately what we’re trying to achieve here is business impact, it’s very clear to us who, inside business organizations, are responsible for business impact. And it’s business executives. 14:05 John Mooney So I think part of the naivety around this whole issue is the portioning of blame purely on IT departments. You asked the question why has it been tolerated, and I think it’s a great question. I actually would say the people who need to step up and answer that question would be the business executives, senior business leaders. Why do senior business leaders continue to tolerate inefficient and wasted expenditure on technology that has no business impact? 14:33 Tom Floyd Now that’s a great question. 9 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 9 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 10. Time Speaker Transcript 14:34 Tom Floyd Let’s go ahead and go on pause, we’re at our first commercial break. Stay tuned everybody, more on Coaching for IT Managers when we return. 17:26 Tom Floyd Hello everyone, and welcome back to Insight on Coaching. For those of you just joining us today, today’s show focuses on Coaching for IT Managers. And where we left off John Mooney from Pepperdine University was just talking about some of the reasons why so many IT projects are failing at such an alarming rate. And John one of the things you just mentioned was that from an ownership perspective, why is the failure of IT projects and expenditures on IT applications tolerated by business executives? That’s a great question for us to ask business executives within the organization. Now David, it sounded like you had a question you wanted to come back on that. 17:58 David Taylor Yes, what I was wondering was, John, were you suggesting that IT leaders—and I’m talking about IT leaders that really cut the mustard, that really are good—are not business executives? 18:09 John Mooney So I think where you’re getting to David I agree with in terms of—for firms that have significantly, a very high dependency upon IT, for whom information technology is a key neighbor of business processes and business strategy. In those types of firms the senior IT executive very much needs to be part of the senior business leadership team. And I also subscribe to—I think what’s behind your question is that—in some cases the likely failures around IT are exasperated because the senior IT leader is not at the appropriate level. So CIOs, if you take the CIO position, to me that is clearly a business executive position. And I think that there in itself is where we have run into trouble sometimes because often—and Tom in his introductory comments talked about the career path that leads to CIO. I think it’s unfortunate in that the obvious career path, maybe the historical career path has been through the technical side of IT to CIO. And those people, I think, often are not well positioned in terms of the business skills that they need to have in order to be effective CIOs. 10 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 10 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 11. Time Speaker Transcript 19:21 John Baschab David, this is John Baschab, I would agree they should be an important part of the senior executive team of the company. After all, most companies are spending anywhere from two to ten percent of their revenues in their IT budgets. What was interesting as we were doing the research for the second edition of our book, were the statistics that showed that only seven percent of fortune 500 companies had a CIO listed as one of their top five officers. 19:55 Tom Floyd Only seven percent? 19:56 John Baschab Only seven percent. So I mean while that’s probably true— 19:59 David Taylor [Crosstalk] what I’ve done is stepped over the footsy, you know, the top 250 companies in Britain, only 26 of the 250 have CIOs at the top table. And interesting 19 of those 26 come from a non technology background. So that’s only seven that sit on the main board, or the operational board, who have a technology background. 20:17 Tom Floyd Wow. 20:19 John Baschab We have a way to go if you look imperially. 20:23 Tom Floyd Tim Phillips, anything you would add? 11 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 11 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 12. Time Speaker Transcript 20:26 Tim Phillips Well the thing I would add is, you touched on this in your opening in the sighting of the statistics is—in the structure itself there is s tremendous lack of communication. And it usually starts with—as you mentioned—executive sponsorship. And who is the person at the end of the day that is ultimately accountable for however we define what success is? Very quickly, that evaporates—if it was ever there—and so as a result of that you have internal IT organizations—which are typically maintenance and support organizations. They are not design, development, implementation, integration organization. So then you’re forced to bring in an outside, third party consultant integrator who is completely foreign to the entire culture of the organization and so now we’re going to move forward and—what is their definition of success? Their definition of success— 21:38 Tom Floyd Do you ever find that, in terms of when those third parties are brought in, that companies are really expecting them to have a magic wand and solve the problem? 21:46 Tim Phillips Exactly. You sold me the software and now use your magic bullets and install it so I flip the switch and turn it on and everybody starts using it. 51:53 David Taylor As an ex-IT Director I almost hate saying this, but unfortunately you have to sometimes bring in third parties because they seem to be listened to far more by the business executives than IT leaders are. 12 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 12 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 13. Time Speaker Transcript 22:03 Tim Phillips Well said. And that goes to the respect within the organization for the IT organization itself. And what often happens is, you get into this terribly deteriorated state of communication where the business community says, “oh those arrogant guys in IT, they don’t’ get it, they can’t do it. We got to go hire a consultant.” And on the IT side they say “oh those business users they never know what they want and what they need. And they can’t communicate it to us, so we’ll wait until they figure it out and then they’ll tell us what to do.” We’re order takers. And so as a result, you bring in some foreign third party who may or may not be the right party, and then expect that to be the magic bridge between these two groups within the enterprise. 22:57 David Taylor Tom, what I would like to know from everyone is, if that foreign third party comes in and if they’re a coach, what sort of skills would you think are best for the coach to help the IT leader with in order to get over these problems? 23:10 Tim Phillips Consultative communication skills, questioning skills, and being able to move the— whoever in the business side that we’re trying to achieve a business objective— establish before we ever start of resource planning or anything: what is the definition of success from a business perspective with tangible business metrics that we’re hoping to achieve using an information technology tool or process? And if you can’t get to that square one, then you’re going to be over in this camp where we’re 180% over budget and three years behind. And then it rolls off in the ditch and it’s dead. 23:53 Tom Floyd Well Tim, just to build upon that a little bit too, how about—and I know you said this before as well, because some projects fail because there isn’t a clear understanding of the needs of the user community - how about coaching around requirements gathering as a skill? Or really working with stakeholders, for example, across organizations? Really access and figure out what it is they want to accomplish before they build it. Is that something that you would see as valuable in terms of how a coach can help as well? 13 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 13 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 14. Time Speaker Transcript 24:22 Tim Phillips Yes, and one of the best ways that you can do that is to have the business community nominate and dedicate, more importantly dedicate, full time one of their respected rising stars within the business community to serve as that liaison and sponsor. And not throw it in the lap of the outside third party consulting firm to do the requirements gathering. 24:54 Tom Floyd And in terms of how a coach can get involved, are these internal coaches or advocates on the inside that should be doing the coaching? Is it an external resource or resources that are paired with the rising star that you mentioned? What would that look like? 25:16 Tim Phillips Well sadly, in reality, the coach usually comes in after the client is mortally wounded and it’s a little too late. Best of all worlds and what works well is teaming a coach who serves as a facilitator with a rising star from the business community, as well as teaming them with a rising star from the information technology community as well as the person from—if you’re using one—the third party consulting firm. 25:51 Tom Floyd So it’s almost like they’re a mini swat team or task force, so to speak. You’ve got the coach, you got the IT rising star, the business rising star, and if there’s a third party involved, somebody who’s really a liaison there too. 26:02 Tim Phillips It’s really an empowered mini executive team for the enterprise project. 14 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 14 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 15. Time Speaker Transcript 26:10 John Mooney So Tom, I’m just a little bit nervous here that we’re getting into the notion that the coach, per say, can be a panacea here. In many cases there are really difficult organizations and environments. I remember a book a few years ago, Set Up To Fail. I think one of the core issues here in a lot of business organizations attempting to adopt and implement large scale IT systems that the organization—and in particular to pick up on what someone was saying a few minutes ago—the relationship between the IT department and the business executives is fundamentally so dysfunctional that not even the best coach in the world alone can bring about a successful outcome. 26:53 John Mooney To me, I think one of the critical things that has to happen very early on—and maybe before the coach comes in, or maybe as part of the engagement of the coach—is really to set up a functional partnership. A working relationship between the senior business executive of the particular business unit that’s going to be impacted by this IT system. And then the IT organization that’s going to support the project. And I think there needs to be very clear clarity around—as John was saying I think— what the ultimate business impacts are that are expected and what the measures of those are. But I think there needs to be very clear accountability around who is ultimately going to be responsible for the achievement of those business impacts. 27:34 David Taylor John, this is David, I am—if there is one characteristic across projects I’ve seen that’s succeeded, it’s been where the senior business and the senior IT executives have an incredible trusted relationship whereby they have informal communication everyday. I mean, let’s face it, project manager meetings are a complete waste of time, they’re just designed so you can protect your back. And these people have such trust in each other. They can—on an ongoing basis—they can find out and ask each other every day if there are any show stoppers? What’s going well, what’s not going well? Is there anyone else we need? Is there anyone we need to get rid of? And with that level of communication they can achieve a lot. 28:13 Tom Floyd I’m going to go ahead and go pause again, I’m hearing the music for our next break. Stay tuned everyone, more on Coaching for IT Managers when we return. 15 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 15 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 16. Time Speaker Transcript 31:30 Tom Floyd Welcome back to today’s show focused on Coaching for IT Managers. We’re privileged to have four outstanding guests on today’s show: David Taylor, John Baschab, John Mooney, and Tim Phillips. I want to land back on a point that came up before our last break. And it was a very good point about not setting an expectation for a coach to come in and be able to solve world hunger basically on some of these engagements. I also want to come back to some the historical things mentioned that tend to go on between business and IT organizations. 31:59 Tom Floyd One of the things that was mentioned was historical tension, so to speak—or a rub, for lack of a better word—between the business side of the house and the IT side of the house. To help our listeners understand that a little bit more, from all of your perspectives, why does that exist? Why is there such a rub? 32:19 John Baschab This is John Baschab, in our business we interview a lot of CIOs in helping to asses their IT departments. And one thing we’ve noticed is that often times—and this is particularly true for mid sized companies—the CIOs have come through a technical track, either from the operations side or from the application side. And they haven’t necessarily developed a lot of outside relationships with the business executives. 32:45 John Baschab And so one story that really sticks out for me was a CIO who could tell us down to the penny what their datacom bills look like, but didn’t know any of the spouse’s names of any of the top executives of the company. And as we were discussing before the break, it is of critical importance to have that day-to-day working relationship with the other senior executives in the company. And if you don’t have that you’re going to have a lot of trouble getting your initiatives pushed through and getting the support that you need to get anything done. 16 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 16 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 17. Time Speaker Transcript 33:11 Tom Floyd Do you find that as a skill, it is just not something that CIOs and other folks on the IT side are naturally thinking about? For me for example, it naturally occurs to me to reach out to people. I’m very people focused, very relationship focused. And a lot of that’s based on my job as a consultant as well, but I also think I came out of the womb talking, so to speak. I’ve probably been talking since the minute I hit this earth. 33:35 John Baschab Yes, I don’t think it’s a natural part of the way IT “thinks.” As we talk about coaching, a good place that I think coaches can help is, getting CIOs more externally focused, both within their company, and outside their company, on developing relationships. Anybody that’s been in sales does this naturally, but CIOs don’t necessarily. 33:52 David Taylor I think we need to be careful when we use the word naturally. I mean we can assume that all CIOs are human beings and when they were children they naturally spoke and they formed relationships. I think that the thing is though, that they perhaps end up looking at technology, and let’s face it, in the last sort of 25 years, technology people have been rewarded for how much technology they understand. Until suddenly one Monday they’re told they’ve got to build relationships and be business executives. 34:15 David Taylor And that’s why I think they need to go back to the basics of communication and building relationships. And actually back to influence and persuasion as well. And that could be external, it could be internal. Tesco, I don’t know if you’ve heard of Tesco, one of our most successful organizations, what Terry Leehe does is he actually moves his executives around. So one year he’ll have the IT director look after a finance area and visa versa, HR look after IT. And he believes that provides really broad executive business experience. 17 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 17 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 18. Time Speaker Transcript 34:43 Tim Phillips Good point, I’d echo that. And something you said earlier dove tails into this, you have to move away from this traditional SLA mindset where you’re just simply keeping the lights on and everything running and humming at 99.9%. And that’s my focus and that’s the only needle on the dial I’m watching. And as a result of that, the perception of the business community is, this is basically an ongoing support function that this person is responsible for. They really don’t have a lot of business acumen, they don’t understand ROI and pay out and the terms that we talk in. And so as a result, they’re viewed as an outsider. They don’t have a seat at the table. 35:33 Tom Floyd So it sounds like there are many different things that could help here in addition to coaching. It sounds like having a career development roadmap or a development framework, and training and the things to really help build and instill some of these overall business skills would also help. Is that an accurate statement? 35:56 John Mooney I would agree with that Tom. Actually it’s interesting, from David’s statistics, I think it’s already happening. David’s statistics said that far more of the CIOs that he’s done his research on are coming through a non technology—and probably, I’m guessing—through an operations route, then people who come through a technology route. So I think you already see that happening. 36:16 Tom Floyd I think the other thing that has to happen to alleviate this big gap that exists between the IT departments and business units is that business units too have to stop being willing to abdicate responsibility for everything related to IT to the IT department. Business executives need to also embrace the fact that IT, in many industries now, is fundamentally embedded in business processes. And you can’t really separate it. 18 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 18 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 19. Time Speaker Transcript 36:44 David Taylor I agree with that. There’s an ultimate irony, Tom, here. And that is that most business executives can get qualifications, and accreditations, and memberships with professional bodies, but whenever a CEO recruits a IT director or a CIO, they’re number one question is; what’s he or she like? So this is the ultimate irony, these people have got a technology background and what gets them promoted is their personality. 37:06 Tom Floyd Interesting. Now we started to get into this a little bit on the business side—so we talked about some of the things historically that have caused the rub. It sounds like on the business side some of it’s even not just with processing—with understanding I should say—how the system’s going to be used within the current process and advocating that. But it sounds like accountability is almost an issue as well. That a coach could really come in and provide some guidance about how the business can be more accountable in the future for ensuring the success of the project. Is that a correct statement too? 37:49 Tim Phillips Yes, I would concur with that. This is Tim, Tom. What we find is, sadly, the IT organization ends up being an order taker. We’re going to spend X percent of our revenue or profit on IT this year because that’s what the other peer group, other members of our peer group do. So here’s your budget. But here’s all the things we want to have done this year. And usually from that order taker perspective, the CIO or the IT organization, have very poor communication and persuasion skills to be able to come back to the business community and say, “this is really unrealistic.” At the end of the day, there’s three things, you can have it good, you can have it fast, or you can have it cheap. 38:40 Tom Floyd I use that same analogy! 19 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 19 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 20. Time Speaker Transcript 38:40 Tim Phillips But you only get two of those three. You pick the two that you want. And you can have a very, a very cohesive and cogent conversation just using that simple model. Whereas today the IT—it basically is, here the IT order, you go out and get the integrator. Here’s your budget. And we have to have it in by December 31st when we close the books and turn it on on January 2nd when everybody comes back. So our entire sales force can start using it. 39:09 John Mooney I would like to add something in here too. I think one caution that we have to add into our discussion, that is, not all IT projects are similar. And there’s different categories of IT projects that range in terms of the actual impact that they have on the business and on the business executives and business professionals. There are many IT projects, pure IT projects around the installation and upgrading of network infrastructure, of messaging and email systems, that happen in the background, and they happen very successfully; upgrading of servers and the building of capacity. And those can happen very successfully completely under that responsibility of IT managers. 39:49 John Mooney There’s a different subset however of IT projects which will really fall very much into this notion of IT enabled business projects. It’s projects in which we’re going to fundamentally change and then support a business process through the use of IT. And I think another thing to bare in mind here, that in some level, helps simplify the problem. Because it’s not all IT projects that require this close partnering between the business unit and IT units. And it’s not all projects which really require the business executive to have overall responsibility and accountability for the business impact. 40:25 John Mooney I just want to add that in there too. It’s not every single IT project that needs to be approached in the same way here. 20 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 20 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 21. Time Speaker Transcript 40:33 David Taylor There’s another irony there isn’t there, Tom? Because if IT leaders can actually do so-called IT projects successfully, it’s saying that they can’t put those into business benefit. Surely every project—be upgrade of a server, or improving an email system—should have a business benefit. And if IT leaders—and I agree with you—tend to do those better, it’s a shame they can’t put those into business figures. Because if they can’t put those into business language, what chance have they got on the really big projects? 41:00 Tom Floyd Well in terms of those really big projects—and I think that was a great distinction that was just made as well—two terms I’ve heard several times now are influence and persuasion, especially in terms of really growing those skills more. And maybe coaching folks on the IT side to demonstrate those to allow them to have more effective conversations to push back when needed with folks on the business side, etc. To help some of our listeners out there who are on the IT side, what are some of the typical care-abouts from the business side? What are some of the pain points, some of the care-abouts, things like that? That when trying to influence and persuade on the business side that someone on the IT side should keep in mind? 41:42 John Baschab Well Tom that’s a great question and one that we’re dealing with every single day as we coach CIOs on how to present their ideas. And what’s interesting is that it’s not so much that CIOs seem to get wrong what the business cares about. But the portion of the time that they spend talking about those components is disproportionate to the way the business cares about them. So we will typically be helping CIOs prepare a presentation to give to the board to go get an allocation to do some big project or another. And the board will say we’d like to know what is it and what does it look like when we’re done? How long is it going to take? How much is it going to cost? What are some of the big risks? What are the sorts of things that can go wrong? And what do you need from us to get it done. And the CIOs will often spend all of their time talking about what it is versus the other things that people care about, which is the budget, the timeline, the capital required, and what the risks are. And so there’s this disproportionate focus on the— 21 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 21 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 22. Time Speaker Transcript 42:44 Tom Floyd I hate to cut you off; I’m hearing the music for our next commercial break. Let’s go ahead and go on pause. Stay tuned everyone, more Insight on Coaching when we return. 45:23 Tom Floyd Welcome back to Insight on Coaching, I’m Tom Floyd. Before our last break we were talking a little bit about some of the “care abouts” on the business side that IT managers can keep in mind as they’re communicating and working with folks on the business side. And it sounds like—from some of the things that we just heard before the break—that in some instances it’s also not getting into all of the details, and getting to the point, are both really important as well. 45:52 Tom Floyd And during our break, Tim, you just brought up some great points as well. One of the points you gave was around being able to talk without using PowerPoint, for example. Can you talk a little bit more about that? 46:02 Tim Phillips Yes, I’ll be happy to. One of the things that we’ve found is that executive teams, boards, decision making bodies have grown so tired and weary of having to—we call it the death by PowerPoint skull drag—that it’s very refreshing when someone can simply come in and talk as if they’re telling a story. Here’s what we want to do, here’s the benefit we think we’re going to capture, this is how we’re going to do it, here are some of the risk points. And then here are points along the way that if we find that we’re mistaken going into this, this is how we can disengage. And present it as if you’re talking to a National Honor Society high school class. 46:51 Tim Phillips Board members are very bright. They don’t care about the technology or the tool. Tell me what it does and how it will grow the business or we’ll save costs. And then talk in terms of ROI and payout and traditional business metrics. And then allow them—if you have someone in the audience who is a technology maven, they will be sure to ask you the questions on the detail, and you’ll have those answers in your back pocket. 22 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 22 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 23. Time Speaker Transcript 47:20 David Taylor You know building on that point Tom, I had some very powerful coaching when I was an IT director on how to present at the board level. It’s not really the PowerPoints or anything else that people have prime in their minds. What they’re really thinking about is they’re looking at me, as an IT director, and thinking, “can this person deliver it?” And that really comes down to the personality, communication, influence and trust. 47:42 Tom Floyd Yep. And the relationship. 47:44 David Taylor And the relationship, absolutely. 47:45 John Mooney And Tom, I’m going to go one step further. I strongly believe that for large significance IT enabled business projects—IT projects are supposed to lead to business impact. It should not be the IT executive that’s making the presentation to the board. It should be the senior business executive of the division, or the functional area, that the business impact is expected to emerge from. Again, this issue of ownership and accountability needs to start at that very first presentation that’s trying to acquire the resources for the project. 48:21 David Taylor I disagree. I think it should be either the IT executive speaking as a business person, or ideally, two representatives, one IT and one other person in the organization speaking together to form that sort of relationship straightaway. 48:33 Tom Floyd So in some cases it sounds like one possibility is to have the business side do it more, but in others, to have both. I mean how does it normally go down, so to speak? John Mooney, is it normally that? Is that the case, it’s normally the CIO or the IT director standing there by themselves making that request? 23 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 23 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 24. Time Speaker Transcript 48:53 John Mooney I would say across all IT projects it’s more likely to be the IT executive who’s making the pitch. If you look at the subset of projects which have been successful—I don’t have actual figures, but my strong intuition tells me that an attribute of successful IT project outcomes is where from day one the business executive assumes primary responsibility and ownership of that project. 49:25 Tom Floyd And David, how many times have you seen it? Is it incredibly rare to see both the IT and business person together present the case? 49:36 David Taylor It is sadly rare because usually business people—outside of IT are suspicious that they are going to be blamed for anything going wrong—right from the beginning this is. We’ve got major public sector projects here where, you know, it’s a bit like the business executives saying to IT, “you go ahead and present, I’m right behind you.” And what they mean is “I’m ready to stab you in the back when it goes wrong.” 50:01 David Taylor But when I have seen it work well, when I have seen this relationship work well—and I’m sorry, I am a bit of a champion for IT leaders here. When I see IT leaders step up to the mark and become business executives, I can see these problems being overcome. And you know ,we all know on this call we spent a long time—me included— talking about what goes wrong on IT projects. There are also a lot of things that go right on IT projects. Some major IT projects have gone in and have helped our society. So I think everyone would agree with that. 50:26 Tom Floyd Oh definitely. 50:28 David Taylor Nobody said anything, Tom. 50:30 Tom Floyd Everybody else was quiet. 24 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 24 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 25. Time Speaker Transcript 50:32 John Mooney Oh for sure, there have been many successes both in business and in public sector. And I think one of the responsibilities of those who are involved in writing and in teaching clearly have, is to learn from those successful projects—and indeed, there has been a lot of lessons. 50:49 John Mooney But you know it’s interesting, Tom, when you did your opening comments and you listed your reasons that have been articulated about why IT projects fail, it’s quite interesting, you look across those, very few, if any of those reasons, had to do with the technology itself. It was issues around project management, it was issues around communication, it was issues around stakeholder buy-in and senior management support. And what fascinates me is, after 45 years of business computing, we’ve known most of those things for at least 20 years. And so now the fascinating question is, why do we continue to tolerate this issue when in actual fact, the knowledge about what should be done is pretty well articulated? 51:34 Tom Floyd Well it’s like again, I must say sometimes people will tolerate something if it’s not painful enough—could be one theory. But then the thing that puts back in my mind is—this sounds pretty darn painful. I mean, financially alone for some of these projects, it’s been painful. Do you think that moving forward people are just going to accept it? 51:56 John Mooney You see, pain, though, pain is only impactful if someone, some individual, actually experiences it. And I think some of the issues we talked about around accountability are, there often is no single individual who experiences the pain, there’s organizational pain, but this muddiness around accountability has been a problem. I do think—there’s one other thing I want to say real quick—I do think, in the defense of IT, because I mentioned 45 years which seems a long time—in the history of business of course, it’s a very short period of time. 25 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 25 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 26. Time Speaker Transcript 52:26 John Mooney And there is another aspect about IT that’s different say from engineering projects, or construction projects, and that is that the underlying nature of IT continues to change. We constantly have new technologies and new systems which become available. And we are very prone to the silver bullet, or the magic bullet belief, right? So the last time we did this, “oh that was old technology, it’s now obsolete and out of date, this new technology, this one, this is the magic bullet that will solve our problem…” 52:56 Tom Floyd Well we only have about two minutes left, so real quickly I want to go around to each of you and ask you to summarize in 15 seconds or less, if you could leave one thing in our listeners minds in terms of overall IT engagements and how coaching can really help - what are some best practices to keep in mind? What’s your 15 second summary on that? David let’s start with you. 53:17 David Taylor I recruit people onto projects who’ve got scars on their backs from previous projects. Focus on the perception of the project and the relationships and the intercommunication. And make sure that your CIO becomes a business person first and foremost. 53:30 Tom Floyd Thank you. John Baschab. 53:33 John Baschab Well two things; one, remember that there’s a Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in IT. Nobody cares about business IT alignment if e-mail’s not working. So get some very good operation infrastructure people in and make sure that your stuff is working before worrying about strategy. 53:46 John Baschab And then two is make sure that you are spending enough time with senior executives and people outside the organization so that you’ve got the right relationships to be effective. 53:53 Tom Floyd Fantastic. Tim. 26 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 26 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript
  • 27. Time Speaker Transcript 53:55 Tim Phillips You cannot over communicate. And the communication needs to be at a level that is based upon a foundation of trust and really caring about making the other person successful. 54:13 Tom Floyd Excellent. And John Mooney. 54:16 John Mooney Well I think if you think in terms of coaching in terms of IT managers, IT managers need to think very explicitly about what business executives need so they can be good partners in these engagements. 54:26 Tom Floyd Well huge thank you to the four of you. This has been a fantastic show. As always, huge thank you to our listeners as well. For more information about our show, you can of course look us up on the Voice America Business channel, and you can also check out our website at www.ieconsulting.biz. Don’t forget you can download the podcast version of the show through Apple iTunes as well. Just go to the iTunes store, click podcast, and enter Insight on Coaching in the search field. Thanks everyone, we’ll see you next week. 27 | Confidential July 30, 2008 Page 27 Coaching for IT Managers Transcript