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The seven words to rule them all

Geoff Lazberger | Nov. 29, 2013
When I assumed the position of CIO for the first time a number of years ago, I found the role alluring, intellectually seductive, completely compelling and engaging, and my absolute passion.

When I assumed the position of CIO for the first time a number of years ago, I found the role alluring, intellectually seductive, completely compelling and engaging, and my absolute passion.

Along with the myriad issues incessantly crying out to be addressed from an infrastructural and informational perspective, the company I worked for was growing at a frenetic pace and acquiring other companies at a ferocious rate. These companies were spread across a range of different business sectors so my "customer" population (the internal users within the businesses who used technology to run the many parts of the conglomerate) was varied and had very diverse needs.

No two days were the same, no script existed on what to do next. Brilliant!

One of the challenges to get on top of quickly was to ensure the IT and IS environments were "controlled" in the sense there were not boundless numbers of disparate software packages and hardware devices scattered throughout the business environment. Because, as I kept telling the team, whatever we built we also had to maintain and support. The more software packages and hardware configurations in our environment, the more expensive, time consuming and risky this was to manage with our minimal resources. But making sure we had practical levels of software and hardware in place to support the business was a task much easier said than done. (Nowadays, with the move to BYOD environments, this is even more of a challenge.)

In an attempt to provide guidance to the helpdesk and IT department, I mentored the IT team to move away from their existing model based on customer "want" to one based on customer "need".

The more people who use this question in their dealings, the better and more effective meetings and IT execution in general will become.

That is, with the key purpose of IT within an organisation being to enable the business strategy and help the organisation become the business it needs to become, we would see our role as understanding and delivering what the customer "needed" to do their job, not just what they "wanted".

My initial thoughts were this mindset shift would move us from being a business where there was a constant demand from users for more different IT software and hardware systems (want) to one more constrained and balanced (need).

How wrong I was!

Eureka moment

Nothing changed. In fact, things became even worse as everyone "needed" to do something, or something different to everyone else.

This surprised me and for a while had me stumped. I was way off course. So I went back to my metaphorical drawing board to muse on a better approach. Then, after much pondering and thinking through why things were happening the way they were and trying to get inside my internal customers heads, it suddenly struck me -- these people were all trying to do certain things for a reason, right?

 

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