Daily Archives: October 20, 2010

What’s the Russian’s plan, son?

One of my favorite lines was in the movie Hunt for Red October when the Captain of the US Aircraft Carrier asks the young officer, “What’s the Russian’s plan, son?”

The young officer had just laid out the scenario about the Red October submarine Captain Rameus (played by Sean Connery) defecting from Russia and how the entire Russian Navy was looking for him.

The Captain asked, “What’s their plan?”

Tired and without sleep for two days the young officer goes to temporary quarters set up for him to get a little rest. Upon rising, he showers and shaves before heading back to the ship’s Bridge for follow-up discussions with the senior officers. As he shaves, he looks in the mirror and starts asking himself questions, , , “What’s their plan?”, , , “How does a nuclear submarine and its entire crew defect?”, , , “the entire crew defecting doesn’t seem possible”, , , “How do you get 100 sailors off a nuclear submarine?”

You can watch the movie to get the full context of the situation, , , but here is a question for you,

“What’s your plan?”

Do you have a plan?

“A plan for what?”, you might ask.

Well, , , anything, , , but at a minimum you ought to have a least two plans:

  1. Your IT strategy and plan for supporting your company
  2. Your personal career plan

Let’s focus on the second one – your career plan. The question I ask everyone I have a career planning discussion with is, , , “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Do you know what you want to be? Have you given much thought to it? What do you want in your career and in life? Or are you simply floating along?

Nothing wrong with drifting along, but those who achieve great success identify what they want and put an action plan in place to prepare themselves to achieve it.

They go for it !!

If you want to be the best programmer, invest in your programming skills, learn new technologies that will help you be a better programmer with more productivity and quality in your work, , , and become the best programmer.

If you want to be a great project manager, invest in your project management and people skills. Start tracking your projects to quantify the results you are getting. Do you know what percentage of your projects are delivered on time, delivered within budget, and meet client expectations? Do you know why certain projects failed and now how to prevent these issues from occurring in future projects? Can you also quantify the benefits each of your projects have delivered? If not, learn how to do all of this better and better and become a great project manager.

If you want to become a successful manager, learn what it takes to succeed in the management role you are shooting for and what paths are appropriate to get a shot at management. When you get the opportunity, hopefully you have invested in yourself to be prepared. Many aren’t and do not fare well as a result.

Leading and managing others requires a whole new set of skills than what you may have developed in your technical role so learn what is required and go prepare yourself. It may seem obvious that those who are prepared tend to get the assignment and do well as a result over those who are not prepared. Seems obvious but many miss the obvious.

So, , , what’s your plan? If you don’t have one, now may be a good time to start thinking about what you want in your career and begin developing a plan to get there.

Need help? Take a look at Develop a Career Plan for some quick tips and a career planning tool.

Two more IT Manager ToolKits awarded

In the last two weeks we awarded two more IT Manager ToolKits to random selections of the Subscribers to our ITLever Blog. That makes 9 ToolKits we have awarded and the big drawing will be December 5th when we select a recipient for an Apple iPad.

Most recent winners are:

  • Edwin Lee  –  Luzerne, Singapore
  • Dave Stringer  –  Sydney, Australia

We have subscribers from all parts of the world and appreciate your support.

Click here for a list of all winners.

Is your IT Organization just a “cost center” ?

How does senior management of your company view your IT organization?

Do they see you as simply a cost center, , , an organization that spends lots of money, , , something that’s probably necessary but hard to identify the value they get from such expenditures?

Do they understand what your IT organization is spending money on and why?

Do they think you and your IT employees have an insatiable desire for technology, , , new toys that are pretty darn expensive but may not contribute to the well being of the company?

If you haven’t asked yourself these questions you need to. It’s vitally important for your success to learn how your senior management team views the company’s IT organization. IT is an investment and you hope they view your organization and what you are doing as a very good investment.

It’s very easy for senior management to see you as simply a cost to the company. Over 90% of all IT organizations do not create revenue for the company so every dollar you spend truly is a cost to the company.

The question is this, “Is the IT expense incurred a good investment or not?”

Another question of sorts is that you should realize how much most senior management teams want to spend in IT. Do you know the answer?

It’s pretty simple, , , most senior management teams want to spend $0.00, , , nothing, , , nadda. Most senior management teams would spend no money in IT if they could.

The problem is that your company needs technology for people to do their jobs, , , and technology has to be supported, , , so we need an IT organization. But what’s more important is that your IT organization needs to provide so much real value for the company that senior management wants to find ways to take advantage of the leverage IT offers the company.

That’s right – leverage.

Your IT organization gives your company more leverage than any other organization in your company. IT is the only organization that can positively impact every other organization in the company. Providing technology solutions can improve productivity or help reduce cost in every organization of your company, , , real leverage.

But, , , if your senior management team sees your IT organization as a cost center, they don’t understand the leverage possibilities you offer. And if that’s the case, they look for ways to limit spending in IT, , , not for ways to take more and more advantage of the leverage possibilities you offer.

How do you find out?
Simple, , , go ask them. Ask your senior managers how they view their IT organization – a value add, a tangible business value, a necessary expense, or a drain on resources?

Can they articulate and define the business value your IT organization provides in quantifiable and specific terms?

If they can’t, it’s very possible they don’t really have a good indicator as to what the value is that you bring to the table, , , and they probably see you as a cost, , , or “cost center.”

Better yet, , , can you define the business value your IT organization provides to your company? Not in a general way, but in very specific terms that identify quantifiable and tangible business value resulting from the work IT is doing. If not, there is much work to do.

Do you know what business value is? If not, I recommend you read the post titled, Business value is key right now.

IT can be a super star
Become an IT organization that does three things consistently and you are golden.

  1. Your IT recommendations always have tangible and quantifiable business value objectives.
  2. Every IT recommendation can be clearly cost justified.
  3. Your IT organization delivers what you commit to deliver.

Every day you must earn your company’s respect.

Every day you must help your company understand the business value IT is providing. If you don’t communicate this to managers of your company, they won’t know – GUARANTEED !!

Create this understanding and gain their respect by delivering what you say you will do and senior management will help you do more for them by funding more and more IT initiatives. It’s the key way to becoming a partner with the senior management team of your company.

Don’t allow your organization to be considered just a “cost center”. You and your staff deserve a lot more, and the ball is in your court to do something about it.