I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and throughout my childhood I played a lot of sports. I played anything from basketball, to soccer, to pickup games of kickball and baseball with neighborhood friends. Actually, my entire family invested a lot of time in sports, between my five brothers playing baseball and me playing soccer/basketball we often discussed how our teams ‘meshed’ and whether or not members interacted well with one another. It was always interesting to see how different teams worked together and how their cohesiveness impacted their success on the field. Even today I often see how important it is that my coworkers and I work together as a team to complete projects efficiently while also adding as much value as possible for our clients.
A cohesive team is one comprised of individuals who are able to see the value that other members bring to the table. Each individual looks for strengths in other team members that can complement their own weaknesses, and vice versa. This is even more important when we talk about the senior managers of corporations working together with every unit of the organization.
Unfortunately, what my team and I have been noticing is that many companies are just now figuring out that they key words are every unit and that IT is a crucial unit to include. We see many situations where IT Governance is not only low on the priority list, but underestimated and undervalued.
Let’s back up for a minute as you may be asking yourself what I mean by IT Governance. The International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF) defines IT governance as the following:
“IT Governance consists of the leadership, organizational structures, and processes that ensure that the enterprise’s [IT] supports the organization’s strategies and objectives”
What the IPPF is pointing out is the enterprise-wide management of any organization must include IT management to ensure everyone is working well together and helping each other write the game plays, so to speak. In order for these different business units to become a cohesive team a few important standards must be established.
- Structure – The IT department needs to be included in the governance structure of the organization. This means that IT management needs to be involved in critical enterprise-wide decisions and be allowed to voice input. You see, the IT team is on the front lines making sure that the organization is running as it should and fixing problems that arise. This allows them to have their finger on the pulse of the organization and interpret their information to better help executive management make decisions for the organization as a whole.
- Accountability – The C-suite of the organization must be aware of and understand what’s going on in the IT department so they are able to hold them accountable, just as they would with any other business unit. Now when I say understand I don’t mean that every member of senior management needs to know every detail of the new equipment being implemented at the company. However, they need to know what the timeline is, the planned budget, what the IT director needs from them to carry out the project, and how they can use their strengths (accountability and oversight) to assist the IT team in successful completion. Can you imagine how much easier it would be to work as one cohesive team when everyone understands what is going on and how they can contribute? This is called playing to everyone’s strengths.
- Strategy – Every good basketball team has a strategy. They know how to handle a tough first quarter and definitely how to close out a game at the last minute. Creating strategy involves different people with different views on the situation. Having diversity in knowledge is a huge asset to a team, especially when orchestrating a plan to achieve their goals. It is imperative that organizations include IT strategic plans and goals in enterprise-wide plans and initiatives. After all, everyone is working toward the same ultimate goal – to see, and be a part of, the company’s success. Each and every unit of the business plays a part in achieving that goal. Allowing IT management to assist in the development of goals and tactical planning can make a huge difference in how well the entire team executes the plan in the long run.
These are only a few of the reasons why it is important to have IT involved in major decisions, and I’m sure there are more that I have yet to think about. My point is, if you want your organization to achieve goals and be able to hit those last second half court shots that make the crowd go wild, you need to build a cohesive team. This includes utilizing strengths in each and every area of your company and practicing together. It takes hard work to build a strong foundation, hold each other accountable, and be patient enough to create a strategy that will work when you need it. But not only is work more fun as a team, in this case, it’ is more effective too. As they say, teamwork does make the dream work.
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