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Do you understand your company's personality?

Minda Zetlin | March 11, 2014
Corporate culture may matter even more to your project's success than ROI does. Here's how to work with it rather than against it.

At the law firm, the biggest value was rapid delivery. "That was definitely a culture of 'We need it done now!'" he says. "A lot of that is client-driven, so there's nothing wrong with that." In state government, the value was lowering costs, he adds. "A big part of the conversation was the reduction of full-time employees. So you had to understand that culture of cost-consciousness and how that factored into IT conversations."

Culture also determines which projects get done, and how quickly. Before he took his current job at the Abramson Center, Kelble's employer was a venture capital-backed, midsize firm. "It was grow, grow, grow," he says. "It was short term. 'We've got to get this up and running, we're going to be growing 50% in the next quarter.'"

I look at what's happening in healthcare ... as well as what's going to happen five and 10 years from now. I ask how I can build for the future. Dave Kelble, director of IT, Abramson Center for Jewish Life

As is common with VC-backed operations, the firm was acquired, IT departments were merged, and Kelble needed a new job. "I went looking for a way to get out of the VC rat race," he says. The Abramson Center was not only a completely different environment, it had different values as well. It's "a different, caring culture, not only for patients, but also employees," he says.

Kelble was hired with a mandate to upgrade the Abramson Center's IT architecture, something the center's leadership knew was needed. "So far, even though it's a nonprofit and budgets are tight, they've listened to what I have to say," Kelble says. In fact, he notes, "I've been here just over two years, and I've made more infrastructure changes that will be capitalized over three to four years than I did in the five years I was at the other company."

That has changed Kelble's approach to the healthcare industry as a whole. "I take a longer view," he says. "Although the other company was also in the healthcare field, I look at what's happening in healthcare much more than I did before, as well as what's going to happen five and 10 years from now. I ask how I can build for the future."

IT Faces a Cultural Challenge
IT employees haven't always been skilled at integrating with the culture of their organizations, experts agree. For one thing, at many companies, there's a different culture in each business unit, location or functional department, and IT may well have a culture of its own. "IT professionals and business professionals look at things differently, which from time to time will result in a clash," McGee says.

 

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