What kind of wake are you leaving?

We rented a pontoon on Lake Itasca the other day (fyi a great state park in Minnesota). The lake was beautiful. Smooth as glass. The morning chill gave way to the warmth of the sun with the light breeze keeping it from getting too hot. A peaceful ride, with the steady hum of the motor, that gave me time to think.

As we cruised across the lake, I looked back behind me and saw our wake. Clearly, we weren’t going that fast, but the wake went side to side on the still lake.

As we go through life, we leave a wake. Wakes come in all shapes and sizes. I won’t bore you with the obvious metaphors of fast and slow boats, wakeboarding, watching out for canoes, waterskiiing, etc.

But I wonder if we would do things a little differently if we better understood our wake. We all have one. We can’t go through life without leaving one. We probably leave different wakes at different times.

So instead of asking “what’s in your wallet?” like the commercial, maybe we should ask what kind of wake are we leaving.

IT Leaders: Supporting a Staff Retirement

If you are an IT leader long enough, you will deal with a team member’s retirement. While similar to any person leaving a position, you may get more than two weeks notice, which can be helpful.

If you have a little more time, here are some things to consider.

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IT Leaders: Walkabouts

The organizations that our IT departments serve have lots of parts, pieces, and most importantly, people. Walkabouts are a good way to stay in touch.

Walkabouts give you informal chances to have conversations with others in your organization. You can learn a lot from these hallway chats.

Here are some other things to consider.

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Prioritizing IT Work: The Challenges

In a previous article, I described the work IT leaders need to manage: incidents, service requests, change requests, and projects. Since there is always a backlog of work to accomplish, prioritization is critical.

How can we prioritize effectively in the IT department?

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IT: The Work We Do

IT does a lot of different kinds of work. Managing it all can be a challenge. Whether your organization is large or small, having a good handle on the types of work IT does is important.

All IT work falls into four large buckets. Let’s look at what these are and how an IT leader should think about them.

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IT Leaders: Business Processes: Set Up For Success

All organizations use business processes to get work done. Most business processes in larger organizations rely on computers and software. IT’s role is to make sure the business process, as implemented in technology, changes as the organization changes. 

This requires that IT understands the business processes well enough to do our job correctly. 

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Mistakes Happen – What Matters Is What Happens Next

Imagine two scenarios.

First, we are at a restaurant. Scanning the menu, we see lots of great options. It’s hard to decide. But finally, we do. We put our order in and sit back, mouth watering in anticipation. Finally, it arrives. And it’s wrong. We wanted french fries and got Brussels sprouts. Or vice versa. Either way, it disappoints us. When we point it out, the restaurant is very apologetic, brings out new food and takes something off the bill.

Second scenario.

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Throttle For Change: How Organizations Should Think About IT

close up of electric lamp against black background

Organizations have IT departments, but they don’t always understand how the IT department can best help. Yes, we keep the computers running. But there can be more than that. Much more.

Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as just telling the rest of the organization how to think about IT. The responsibility is not with the rest of the company to believe IT understands the business. The responsibility is on us to show that we understand it. Frequently.

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The Importance of Implementation

A great system, implemented badly, will probably fail. A mediocre system, implemented beautifully, will probably succeed.

In the IT world, there are often projects that require selecting a product. The team determines requirements, creates a long list, reduces it to a short list, and makes a selection. This is usually done with large systems, like ERP.

It is important that we get the selection process right. The wrong technology can hamper our organization for years.

However, implementation is at least as important, if not more important, than selection.

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Risk Management in IT

Sitting at a computer or in meetings doesn’t really sound like a risky job, does it? However, the job of an IT Leader is full of things that might go wrong: decisions that may backfire, projects that don’t work, or vendors that cause problems. Technology can fail, security can fail, backups can fail.

We don’t have infinite time or money to mitigate all these risks. We have to accept some.

How should IT leaders think about risk?

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