How to Successfully Share Your Vision for IT

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

Successfully sharing your vision for technology in your business is a constant challenge. If there was a silver bullet to this, it would be worth more than its weight in gold (nice metaphor, eh?)

The IT vision isn’t something owned only by the CIO, it is a product of many people in the organization. Once you’ve concocted your vision, you must share it and get buy-in from colleagues as it inevitably involves organizational change, oh and spending money! There is one important point though – the IT Vision shouldn’t be ‘sold’, at least the ‘hard-sell’.
If you ‘sell’ the vision, you won’t ‘sell’ it. The IT vision must be compelling enough that it ‘sells’ itself. So the vision must articulate what changes will be made, but more importantly, why . There isn’t enough know-why in business. The vision therefore must be content-driven based on the needs of the organization and a solution based on the capability of the organization. If you don’t have the capability, then it’s an aspiration rather than a vision. Of course the vision could be to build capability, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

The vision must be about creating awareness and solving the problem. I find the best ‘visions’ are those that create a shock (create or embellish the need), and then offer a solution. I find the best way to cause a shock is to disprove the perception that the status quo is currently effective (that the organization is ‘fiddling whilst Rome is burning’) and that by changing direction or path towards the vision is the desired outcome. For example, you could say that 33% of IT’s time is spent solving issues which equates to $Xm which in turn could be spent on developing products, etc. Holding the mirror up, figuratively speaking, is powerful.

I also find that a vision must not be open-ended, i.e. it is one option of one. One mistake leaders make is to present options at the macro-level that leave as many questions as it answers. So the vision must be formed with collaborating with the organization to an extent. I say ‘to an extent’ as the solution to the vision mustn’t try to take into account every eventuality and factor as this will end up in mediocrity – a watered down vision. So it must be innovative and challenging.

Without having endorsement from a business sponsor, there isn’t a customer as such. The vision shouldn’t be something done to the organization, rather, it is something done for and with the organization. Business sponsorship is an absolute must for the vision. Otherwise, it lacks context. See why BPM projects critically need Business Sponsorship.

Lastly, I have found through several years of promoting a vision for IT that technology shouldn’t really factor too much in articulating it. Technology is the tactics. The business outcomes and events are the stratagem of the vision. The vision and ensuing strategy should be about people, collaboration and culture, according to Chris Potts on CIO.COM as well. This is the sure-fire way of successfully sharing your vision.

Read the ‘Tools for Leading Business Change ‘ article, by Chris Potts, on CIO.COM.

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