September 04, 2012, 11:12 AM —
It may sound premature to start thinking like a CIO this early in your career, but it will help you begin to notice things you would otherwise miss.
This phenomenon is best described using a totally non-technical example. Think of a highway that you drive on all the time. It could be to and from work, to and from a loved one’s house, or to and from your favorite activity.
Ok, with this vision in mind, let’s pretend that one day when driving down the highway and your car is very low on gas and the “Low Gas” light starts to flash. Wanting to save money, you made the decision to buy gas at the station near your house, rather than off the highway, because you thought it would be cheaper. Then, during your drive home, you begin noticing road signs everywhere advertising gas stations just off almost every highway exit. You have driven on that highway a thousand times. Why is it that you never noticed these gasoline signs before? Well, the answer is because you didn’t need gas. As a second and third example, this analogy also works for restaurants when you’re hungry and restrooms for, well, you know.
Back to the topic at hand, this same phenomenon is true in the workplace. That said, if you only concentrate on your specific job, and not the other things around you, you won’t notice the manager level, IT/User level, and upper management level interactions that are going on around you. These interactions include the following:
1. Interaction between IT managers: Do the IT managers work together as a team or is there in-fighting between departments?
2. Dynamic between IT managers and key business users: Are the IT managers treated as equals by the leaders of the organizations they support?
3. The relationships between IT and its vendors: Does your IT organization treat its vendors well or is it abusive, overbearing, and generally difficult to work with?
4. Employee-related philosophies: How does your IT organization treat its employees? Does it provide training? Does IT promote from within or always fill management and senior executive positions from the outside? Does IT encourage cross-department employee movement or do department managers tend to discourage movement from department to department?
5. Management-related philosophies: Are managers given decision making authority or are all decisions made by senior management? How is the IT organization organized? Are there official dotted line reporting relationships? Is IT centralized or decentralized?
6. The role of IT within the company: Is IT considered to be a strategic partner with the business groups or is it viewed as simply a service organization? Is the organization, and thus IT, an early adopter or late adopter of technology? Compared to other internal service organizations, is the IT organization well funded or poorly funded?