I've been thinking lately and it is apparent that there are two sides of IT. The Innovation side and the traditional Information side. Innovation is the "fun stuff". It's new technology. It's new processes and culture and the stuff that gets called "Value add".
The Information, or some call in the Infrastructure side is the more traditional side of IT. Things like keeping the infrastructure running, updating reports and to some extent integrating existing systems or automating existing processes.
Most CIO's really want to spend more time on innovation but keep getting dragged back into the traditional side. I thought I'd share my thoughts on how you can fix that. At the end of the day it comes down to the usual, "if you want to be a great CIO, you need a great team".
But more specifically I think you need to be good at the following areas.
1. Remember the basics. At the end of the day if every conversation with the other executives turns into "Why is this slow or broken" you will never get to be innovative. You simply can't move forward when you are watching your back.
2. Social. Your team needs to be social and likable. While it is possible to fix many issues with remote support tools, there is a huge benefit to simply walking to someone's desk and helping them. You will become a "person" rather than a department and it's much harder to dislike a person than a title.
3. Visionary. Your entire team needs to be able to see the bigger picture. We once had a ticket for a broken fax machine that uncovered a completely broken process involving multiple faxing, printing and saving of documents. While the technician could have fixed the fax and closed the ticket, but understanding the bigger picture we were able to streamline and entire process. And yes we did fix the fax too..
4. Don't say no. Now this doesn't mean saying yes, but rather listening to the problem and coming up with a way to solve the users issues. If you say no, then it's going to happen anyway and the next time they are likely to just not bother asking you at all. If you come up with a solution and implement it well, you become a real partner. Saying no makes you a roadblock, solving a problem makes you a partner.
5. Be the expert. As an IT leader you need to know what is going on. The last thing you want is your CEO learning about the latest social network application from his 12 year old daughter. Or reading about this great new CRM from a magazine on the plane. You may not always be a step ahead, but you should never be a mile behind either.
6. Embrace our differences. Not everyone is in IT or even likes technology. Just because it seems easy to you, doesn't mean all your users will immediately understand it. Training and evangelizing why is important