When I was a boy, I noticed my Father worked hard, long hours at his day job, and then he would come home and stay up til midnight working on his side business. He was a machine, he would work for hours and think nothing of it. Due to his working so much, we never got to have much Dad time, but when we did, it was great fun. For years I took my Father’s advice, and for years I struggled, until I realized he was stuck in the Industrial Age Program, he lived to work.
I never believed that we were to work so hard we would forget to live our lives, that we would trade that life money, like we just sold our souls to the devil. I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with a good hard days work, but why are you doing it. Many would stand up and say, “I’m doing this to support my family, so they can have a good life”. While that may be true, I have a hunch, most of us didn’t really believe it when we said it.
If helping people is important, how can you help anyone if you’re working 60 -70 hours a week, your time is eaten by your day job. Maybe your day job helps people, it’s possible that you have traded your life for that day job that helps people. It’s not all bad though, we do however have to step back and ask ourselves why we have traded our time for dollars.
In the end, my Father worked his entire life believing everything would be OK when retirement knocked on his door. It was a lie, and was angry, because he truly thought he was doing was for his family, trading his life so we could have a better life when his working years were finished. He used to tell me, “son, you have a choice, you have to decide which 12 your were going to work. You can work the first 12 hours of a day, or the second twelve, it’s your choice”. I hated it when he said it, because he had already proved his theory, his belief didn’t work.
My Father retired at age 55, he lived to be 70, so he struggled far more in those retirement years than he did when he worked the day job. Because what he was told wasn’t true, he believed what he was told by his employer and by the government. Do this, and do that, and you’ll be just fine come retirement time. So now what do we do with that knowledge?
If you haven’t noticed, most so-called careers have a shelf life, they don’t care how long you’ve devoted your life to it, it doesn’t care how old you are, it flat-out doesn’t care, it will spit you out regardless of the life you traded to make sure it survived. The bottom-line, protectionism, and control is what big business is mostly about, the music industry, newspapers, politicians, they are all doing everything they can to keeps under their thumb. They want you to make that decision of which twelve you’re going to trade you life for a pay cheque.
Some how life has gotten so complicated we’re not sure who to believe, how to undo, and how to unlearn much of what we believe to be true. As I said before, YOU are the secret weapon, only YOU can make a difference, only YOU can decide what, and for how long. Surround yourself with smarter people than yourself, because if you think you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.
Every organization has politics that shapes the culture of an office, this culture also determines whether you’re satisfied with the role you fill and or find the work you do is meaningful. Now I’m generalizing of course, there are many organizations that have healthy environments, they allow those they hire to do what they do best. They foster creativity and the opportunity to improve and actually keep the organization inline with business objectives. There’s also many that don’t, and there are many good and very smart people trying to shine there too.
One thing an I.T. Strategic Plan can’t solve is the politics of an organization. Great strategies never see the light of day due to the political climate of an organization, right or wrong it happens everyday. Some of the brightest minds in an organization won’t be fully utilized, or worse yet, a business could go out of business if the political culture doesn’t change. I don’t have the answer for this and there is no silver bullet, but each office has it’s dynamics to deal with.
Don’t give up, there is hope. As head of I.T. you have a way to ensure your strategy get’s a fighting chance, start with developing a departmental Vision / Mission statement that aligns with the organizations business plan. Pull your team together, brainstorm and start building your purpose statement that makes the political field in your firm take notice. A solid I.T. Strategic Plan germinates from a great Vision / Mission statement, you and your team is the one that has to get it done. Deliver a message that shows everyone how you are committed to the organizations overall vision and then tell them how you are going to help them achieve the goals laid before each department. Every person on the team has to be committed, has to read it, memorize it, learn it and above all believe it or you won’t be able to sell it.
Once you have a strong Vision and Mission you must deliver the message by doing exactly what you said you would do in your strategy. It’s the first step in your I.T. Strategy, taking inventory and paying attention to what the organization is trying to accomplish at a high level. Fly at 50,000 Feet and look for the patterns no one else sees. Look for ways to tie technology to business objectives and you will be golden when you deliver.
Once you have a purpose, you can then focus on the services your team will deliver, these services will be tied to the objectives and Key Result Areas (KRA’s) in your plan. Those are the next two steps and I’ll touch on those another time, for now, sit down and get familiar with your organizations business plan, fly at 50,000 ft. and look for the patterns, then pull the team together to build a MANTRA, a war cry and then get to work. This is just one way to manage the politics in your office, but it’s just one way to proceed. There are many ways to skin a cat my Father used to say but at least do something positive to help the organization win, you and your team will be viewed as a solution provider.