A Groundbreaking New Book on How to Succeed in IT
Monday, August 9, 2010
Posted by: Steve Romeo
I'm excited to introduce my new book, "The New Technology Paradigm: Transforming IT With Passion, Courage, and Collaboration." To give you the flavor, I will start with a short description from the back cover. Then I'll share an excerpt from Chapter Four that will give you some practical tips on how to communicate in a way that gets results.
DESCRIPTION FROM BACK COVER: "The New Technology Paradigm" heralds an explosive new shift in the fast-changing world of information technology-a shift in which IT is used as a powerful new force to drive top-line sales, open new markets, solidify customer loyalty, and create a more productive workplace.
Boldly stating that interpersonal skills are just as important as technical skills, author Steve Romeo makes a business case for transforming IT by awakening our latent passion for what we do, having the courage to communicate openly, and creating an environment of collaboration in which everyone's contribution is honored.
More important, he tells us just how to do it: how to overcome the communication gap between IT and management; how to build trust, rapport, and a common language; how to muster the courage to challenge the status quo; and even how we can use "green" IT to help the environment and improve bottom-line sales and savings.
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER FOUR ON COLLABORATION
In my speeches about IT, I usually ask my audience why collaboration is important. The answers run the gamut, from the importance of sharing knowledge and ideas to getting things done more easily through the principle of "many hands make light work." These are important aspects of working together, but I've found that we IT people don't usually collaborate at all the levels necessary in order to be truly successful.
For example, if only one person is bought in or contributing to a project, it will almost certainly fail. Similarly, if there are misunderstandings or factions within participating groups, these will likewise lead to failure. Most important, we need to communicate with each other clearly and respectfully.
One of the first steps in clear communication is learning your business. If you're an IT professional who's looking for cooperation, first find out what makes the business tick. Talk to business leaders about what they want and need. Ask your customers about their needs and concerns. Ask what would help make the business grow. Ask what deficiencies exist in the business that IT might be able to remedy. In making the rounds informally, you will begin to build rapport with the people whose support you need in future projects.
I can't emphasize this enough. Over the years, many IT organizations have been through the wringer. They are not well perceived within the overall company. Most are undervalued, many are just surviving, and some are just hanging on by the tips of their fingers. A big part of the reason is that they don't develop that all-important rapport by asking the right questions.
For example, an IT associate of mine told me about a client who was the vice president of manufacturing in a biotech company in Carlsbad, California. He said that when he sat down with his client and proposed doing a companywide IT assessment along with a five-year strategic plan, the VP replied, "I don't know why you are here. I just want my PC to work." The VP was a very well-educated executive who was used to working in a highly technical environment, but no one had ever asked him about his most basic concerns. He didn't see the value of IT on a larger scale because the smaller-scale problems hadn't been taken care of first.
As an IT professional, you need to win your fans one at a time. First get past the initial barrier of getting their PCs to work. Then gradually build the relationship by listening to their concerns and solving their other immediate problems. If you start small, you will gradually establish a solid foundation of trust and respect on which you can build bigger things.
Also make sure everyone is speaking the same language. All too often, I've seen IT professionals give presentations in such technical language that even their management audiences soon become overwhelmed or bored. They look down at their watches and begin to fidget. They yawn or stare at the wall. They begin texting their friends, as though planning their escape.
Nothing turns most people off faster than technical jargon. Though we IT people are used to it, it can sound like a foreign language to others. For best results, spend some informal time communicating with your audience beforehand. Better yet, if your pitch is within the company, spend some weeks or months getting to know your audience. That way, when you communicate, you'll know that your words are being taken in. This is a critical step in creating the buy-in that leads to effective collaboration.
Also, be careful about what you communicate, including the questions you ask. If I walk into a new business situation and ask IT questions, I almost immediately lose my audience. On the other hand, if I have been sleuthing around in shipping, marketing, and other departments and start talking with management leaders about the business, I have their immediate attention. Armed with a working knowledge of the business and its challenges, my credibility goes way up before I've even started. Why? Because I am demonstrating that I'm interested in and connected to the business as a whole, not isolated in my separate IT department.
In this same vein, another useful activity is to study some of the key publications and documents of the firms you want to work with. Then study their competition so you can speak intelligently about them. With one client, I read the business's Securities and Exchange Commission filings and its annual report before walking through the door. This gave me an idea of the things that were important to management and a sense for how I could engage in a more fruitful communication about IT.
WHERE TO BUY THE BOOK: I hope this has been enough to whet your appetite. If so, you can purchase "The New Technology Paradigm" either on Amazon at www.amazon.com, or by going to Blue Lizard Press at www.bluelizardpress.com for an autographed copy. Here's to your success in your business and your life!
Editor's Note: Steve Romeo is a member of the San Diego Chapter.