Because IT execution beats IT strategy every day, your self motivation and follow through need to factor heavily into whatever IT strategy you develop. That’s because your IT strategic plan, like your budget and project portfolio, represent your commitments as a CIO to the business. Execution failures, whether from a lack of motivation, follow through, or other reasons on your IT strategy can negate all the good things you are doing.
It is also important to understand that among the many lessons of execution failures is that an execution failure will be viewed very differently than a failed strategy. That’s because strategies are never 100% and there are lots of reasons why IT strategic plans fail. Whereas a failure to execute your IT strategy becomes a constant reminder to your staff and your peers that you did not deliver on your commitments which is viewed more as a personal failure or failure of your leadership.
If you don’t remember anything else today be sure to remember that it is far better to deliver on a less ambitious IT strategy than it is to under deliver on really ambitious ones.
Put another way, it is better to do a few things really well than a lot of things poorly. Or as the old adage goes, it is better to under promise and over deliver than to over promise and under deliver.
Personal and professional credibility is absolutely essential to being a successful CIO. It is the foundation for relationship building because it is how trust is formed. As every CIO knows, you can’t do anything without trust and relationships. This means people need to be able to count on you to follow through and deliver on your commitments which includes the execution of your IT strategy.
For all the attention of CIO’s being more strategic it is important to remember that none of that matters if your execution is poor or you fail to operationalize it. Just looking over some of my recent posts on the Future of IT, importance of creating a CIO Manifesto, and the effect of bad behaviors I realize I am not acknowledging the importance of staying within the limits of what you are willing or able to actually accomplish.
So while you might write a really powerful CIO manifesto, if you don’t adhere to it, your credibility will suffer which can even drag down your entire department. Similarly, you can put together a fantastic IT strategy that reflects a well reasoned roadmap for the future of IT and the impacts of cloud computing, but if you don’t have the discipline to follow through on it your execution failure can become a career shortening event.
OK, you are probably saying to yourself “Jerry you are the master of the obvious. So tell me something I don’t know.” Well this is the time of year where you are either just starting a new fiscal year and planning cycle or you are at your half-way point. So what better time to get off on the right foot or make an adjustment based on a mid-year review that gets back on track with your IT strategy.
To increase your chances for a successful IT strategy, set aside regular structured time for yourself and to meet with your team. During these times review progress on the strategic plan, any barriers or conflicting priorities and make adjustments. Reduce the distractions to your focus on your strategy. And, be sure to develop and follow a communication plan to the organization and key stakeholders on your progress.