Enter the concept of IT Zen, created by Ben Muscolino of AMS Geek and our very own Gretchen Steenstra. IT Zen is about creating harmony across leadership, business, and technology in your organization. The path to IT Zen starts with finding the balance between people, technology, and the connections between them that serve staff and members. By focusing on alignment instead of perfection, you can build harmony and minimize chaos in your organization.
People will always be the ones making the decisions that guide your organization, so it’s vital that you invest time into working with your staff to achieve IT Zen. For one, make sure you include your business teams in your technology decisions so that your technology provides the optimal experience for members and staff, not just your IT professionals. This will help you focus on the user experience.
However, while it is important to consider the opinions of everyone who interacts with a technology in the organization, it is also critical to ensure there is a single person or small group that is in charge of making decisions in your organization. IT Zen doesn’t mean one hundred percent agreement; it means consensus.
Technology harmony may require changes in technology and the way people use it. Keep in mind that technology is always changing and that striving for perfection can get in the way of IT Zen. Instead, encourage tinkering with your technology with small projects and build on that experience as a hands-on education path. This approach will require a different style of training as well, so you should ensure there is a plan for ongoing education and training as well as funding for the ongoing maintenance of your technology.
It’s also important to remember that you don’t need to always go bigger with your technology; your focus should be on finding technology that aligns with your goals, and sometimes simple technology does the job. IT Zen is achieved when organizations find the right balance between more enterprise-level technologies and lower cost, lower effort solutions. It’s often helpful to start with the latter until you have time to evaluate whether you’ve found the right tool for the job. It’s always possible there’s a better technology out there, but you may decide that the less expensive option does the job just fine.
To achieve IT Zen, you need to focus on developing strong connections between your business areas, technology resources, and members and customers. Connections can be formal and technical, such as integrations between systems to support single sign-on and data shared across systems, or they can be strategic and potentially informal, such as a roadmap that guides the connections between your organization’s business goals and technology solutions.
IT Team and Business Staff
To improve these connections, it’s important to put effort into creating a partnership between your IT staff and business owners as projects are created and developed. This is where training and tinkering can create common language and experiences that will help business staff and technology experts work together. This is also a great opportunity for leadership to empower staff members. Creating an IT Strategic Plan will go a long way toward aligning your technology initiatives and strategies with your mission, vision, and business objectives.
Technology Vendors and Organization Staff
As for your other interpersonal connections, another area of potential tension in your connections involves your technology partners. First, organizations need to establish the type of relationship they want to have with their vendors. Some vendors are transactional and provide defined services while others are partners that provide services as well as consultation. Either way, it’s helpful to nurture your relationship with your vendors by scheduling regular vendor summits with complimentary services and business areas.
During the summits, the organization should share goals and objectives, and the vendors should share their roadmap and services. This type of discussion will help you and your vendors stay on the same page so you can work together to accomplish your goals, and your vendors will be able to provide input during the planning stages instead of reacting to a final decision. As you strengthen your relationship, work towards treating your vendor partners like extensions of your staff.
Data and Business Objectives
The other facet to improving your connections has to do with your data. It is critical to clearly define data connections, including how you integrate your data and how you use it to support member interactions and analysis. Your organization must define a plan and clearly communicate the purpose of data and its use so you can have the most effective connections possible.
As you start with your IT Zen journey, identify a few areas in need of improvement that can act as a starting place. Once you start seeing improvements, you can move on to harmonizing the rest of your organization. You can find IT Zen!
- Chatting About Technology Ecosystems (Podcast)