Relationships matter

Which is more important - skills or manners?

The right answer: both. Whereas mediocre employees will never create excellent results, everyone else will torpedo the work of a brilliant but obnoxious co-worker.

It's likewise with your IT organisation. Excellence is important but not until after the business invites you to participate. Relationships matter.

Nor is having a "good" relationship sufficient. You need the right kind of relationship - one you've designed. But how do you design a relationship?

I have elsewhere introduced a technique for starting the process of designing your relationship with the rest of the business, called either "scenario-based design" or "tales by the campfire", depending on which stage of the consulting sales cycle I'm in. It replaces abstract generalities with illustrative anecdotes as a way for IT leaders to explain to one another what they'd like IT's relationship with the business to look like.

Once your team has shared these anecdotes - and probed at them, because you need internal consensus on this - what happens next?

Extract a set of between five and seven principles for designing a relationship.

What good are these design principles? They're what you need for the next step - to figure out how IT has to change. That's the payoff.

What really matters in all of this is that you have a structured process to help figure out what new skills and knowledge your employees will need, how some key processes will have to change, and perhaps what new tools you'll have to put into place so you can have the right relationship with the rest of the company.

How's your relationship with the business? Send Bob an e-mail via

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