Crafting a Vision for IT


An organization’s vision should communicate to both internal and external audiences a key thing: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A vision is a statement of your self-worth. Its purpose is not only to motivate the employees into meaningful action but also to give the leadership a means of monitoring progress. It has meaning not only for internal but also to external audiences, as this is how you want them to view you.
The successful adoption of a vision is dependent not only on its content but also on three critical things:
1) Process used to create it
2) Communications
3) Monitoring
Here are some things to consider in each of these:
Vision Development Process:

  • Let the business drive it: A successful IT vision is always driven by the business’ vision and how senior leadership views IT’s role in its attainment.
  • Involve all stakeholders: All stakeholders, from business and IT side, should participate in its development to feel a sense of ownership. Otherwise, even though they might approve it, they may not adopt or act on it.
  • Assign responsibility: Take input but make stakeholders accountable as well. It should be very clear as to how each person will contribute to its attainment.
  • Seek expert facilitation: This is the key to getting a statement that works
  • Use iterations: A vision once created is stable. However, to get there, it has to go through multiple iterations - adapt as you learn.

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Content:

  • Start from where you are: Cultural change is a journey - the best way to get where you want to go is by starting from where you are.
  • Build in the values of the organization: Every organization has a soul. Tap into yours – modify as needed. A vision built on your values will not just hold a lot of promise but also deliver on it.
  • Build on core competencies of the organization: A vision cannot work without being put into operation. The latter requires one to recognize their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Factor in your style: A vision must reflect its leader’s style. You cannot sustain action contrary to your style. Your team members might be distracted into inaction if they cannot resolve the dissonance between the two.
  • Use Charting: Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. There are good charting techniques available to create a picture of the vision.
  • Make it simple to understand: Complex language or disconnected statements do not have an impact on the audience – how would one implement something they don’t understand or identify with?
  • Make it practical and achievable: A vision is an organizations dream for the future. However, unreachable goals discourage people leading to abandoned tasks.
  • Phase it in: Reach for the sky, perhaps in multiple steps with each one achievable.
  • Make it actionable: A vision must never be so abstract that coherent action cannot be taken to achieve it.


Communications:

  • Communicate Often: Internal communications are the key to the understanding and adoption of a vision. People need to see it, identify with it and know that the leadership is serious about it.
  • Create messages that relate to the audience: For your team to adopt a vision, they must identify with it. More importantly, they must understand how individually and collectively the team will achieve it.
  • Create messages that inspire action: It is not only what you say but also how you say it.

Monitor:

  • Identify key milestones: It is important to know one’s destination. However, it is critical to know the key milestone’s on the way.
  • Monitor progress: A process such as strategic audit, combined with key metrics, can be used to measure success against goals and objectives
  • Use external audit team: An external team not only brings objectivity but also a fresh set of eyes and perspective to the process.

The timing is right to have a new vision imbue optimism and reinvigorate your organization. However, this must be done with a strong sense of realism.
About the Author:
Sourabh Hajela is a management consultant and trainer with over20 years of experience creating shareholder value for his Fortune 50 clients. His consulting practice is focused on IT Strategy – alignment and ROI. For more information, please visit http://www.startsmarts.com/ Please feel free to contact him at [email protected].


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