Posts Tagged IT Paradoxes

Building Trust and Credibility

TrustTrust is like oil.  Its the stuff that makes relationships in and with IT work.  Without trust and credibility, IT goverance, project management, conflict resolution, career progression, etc. can happen, but are slower and have many issues.  Consider this. “With high trust, success comes faster, better and at a lower cost” says David Neeleman, Founder of JetBlue.  In IT organizations that are struggling, trust and credibility are the  most important habits for IT leaders (and staff) to build, improve and maintain.

Trust is difficult to build, remains fragile and can be lost.  Every struggling IT professional and/or organization has major problems in this area.  Some believe once trust is lost it can not be regained, but from my experience this is not true.  The best sources I used regarding trust and credibility are from Stephen R. Covey and his son Stephen M.R. Covey, and much of this blog is based on their work and my experiences using and mastering their concepts.

Trust is not just a touchy, feely concept.  It (interpersonal trust) is an attitude or state of mind that has been cultivated between people.  Consider this definition of trust from the Covey’s:

TRUST = One’s Character + One’s Competency

Trust between people is a combination of a person’s:

  •  Character – What you say/do, How you say/do, and  Why you say/do
  •  Competency -  What you can do, What you do, and What results you deliver

So why is competency required to build trust?  I thought you just needed to be a ‘good person’ – high character.  Let’s look at a doctor/patient relationship.  As a patient needing open heart surgery, would you trust a doctor that had good bed side manners and high personal integrity, but was in their first year as a cardiologist, and had never performed open heart surgery?  Partially, but if I was the patient, I want someone more accomplished (competent) to do the surgery.

People build trust by building ‘trust wealth’ in what the Covey’s call an ‘Emotional Bank Account’ (EBA).  As with any bank account, people can add to the account with deposits and reduce the account with withdrawals.  Here are just a few examples of deposits and withdrawals IT professionals make.


  • Deposits – Think Straight, Talk Straight; Listens to Understand; Manages Expectations; Work to Right Wrongs; Put Employees First, Then Customers, Then Stockholders; Promote Win/Win Decisions; Accountable for Mistakes
  • Withdrawals -  Show Disrespect; Listen to Respond; Not Trusting; Talk Behind People’s Backs; Avoid Conflict; Talks the Talk, Does Not Walk the Walk; Being Intolerant/Inflexible; Blame Others


  • Deposits – Keep Commitments by Under Promising and Over Delivering; Manage Risks; Solve Root Cause of  Problems; Promote Continuous Improvements; Admits When Wrong/Do Not Know; Manages Things and Leads People
  • Withdrawals -  Sell Poor Ideas; Does Not Understand the Business; Does Not Measure Success; Is Reactive versus Proactive; Does Not Align with Business; Poor Track Record

So how can you, somewhat objectively, measure your EBA with colleagues? I use the Trust Quotient:

TQ = EBA Deposits / (EBA Withdrawals * 2.5)

That’s right – withdrawals are more expensive than a single deposit.  You need 2 to 2.5 deposits to make up for a single withdrawal.


Do you have stories/experiences with trust in IT??


PS Check out HBR blog on Trust –


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Resolve ‘IT’ Paradoxes



In my last blog, I introduced several  ‘IT Paradoxes’  from Martha Heller and from my experiences, and the Seven ‘IT’ Habits that can mitigate or resolve these paradoxes.  By developing and improving these Habits and using them to address paradoxes, barriers, and issues, IT organizations, and the business, will see these improvements:


  • Faster Throughput (projects and processes)
  • Less Costly (unit costs)
  • Better Quality (products, software, systems and processes)
  • More Agility (ability to change)
  • More Capacity (do more with less)
  • Better Risk Management
  • Better Place to Work (less stress, turnover, etc)
  • Improved Trust and Credibility (less conflicts)


Let’s take a couple of paradoxes/barriers mentioned before and see which Habits IT Leaders must develop/improve to mitigate or eliminate the paradox/barrier.

1. The Business wants IT to be strategic, but force them to spend most of their time on operational issues.

This paradox can be complex, but usually exists because IT has low credibility with the its business peers and/or inadequate IT leadership.  ‘Leaders’ in IT must resolve this paradox by: (1) Build  trust and credibility; (2) Understand  the business, model and industry; (3) Align goals and objectives; and (4) Lead  People.

2. ‘IT’ can make or break a company, but its leader(s) are infrequently members of C – level executive groups.

This paradox is a good measurement of the overall success of, or lack of, an IT organization, and is a direct measure of leadership in IT.  C-level leaders in other parts of the business tend to see opportunities, issues, etc. in ‘shades of gray’ where many IT leaders see the same in terms of ‘black and white’, which can cause a lack of trust and credibility, and thus conflicts.   ‘Leaders’ in IT need to improve these Habits to resolve this paradox: (1) Build  trust and credibility; (2) Understand  the business, model and industry; (3) Lead  People; and (4) Adapt to change.

Next blog, I will discuss what it means to build trust and credibility, and how to begin.

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IT Organization Success

Keys to IT Success



 Keys to IT Organization Success

No secret, for decades many IT organizations have struggled to be successful – probably more so than any other.  When is the last time you saw a dozen articles on the struggling accounting, marketing or human resources organizations?

Martha Heller in a 2010 CIO Magazine article discusses IT struggles and suggests a few ‘paradoxes’ in IT organizations that may be barriers to a successful IT organization.

  • The Business wants IT to be strategic, but force them to spend most of their time on operational issues.
  • IT needs to be stewards of risk mitigation and cost containment, yet expected to innovate.
  • IT is seen as that of an enabler, yet is also expected to be a business driver.
  • IT can make or break a company, but its leaders are infrequently members of C-level executive groups.
  • IT is one of the most pervasive, critical functions, yet must prove its value constantly.
  • Many IT successes are invisible, yet its few mistakes are highly visible.
  • IT project teams are accountable for project success, even if the Business has ownership.
  • IT staff loves new technology, but must embrace/understand the Business to be successful.
  • Many IT teams/people are uncomfortable dealing with people, but to succeed must build relationships, influence others, and resolve conflicts.
  • IT infrastructure is a consistent, long-term investment, but the Business thinks in quarters.

And here are a few more paradoxes I have experienced:

  • The Business wholly adopted  ‘BPI’, but IT has poor processes and rarely has budget for improvement.
  • C-level executives believe IT costs too much and fails to provide comparable value, but have limited knowledge of IT project or operational successes.
  • C-level executives expect IT to deliver new, strategic capabilities to their Business unit, yet most of the project identification, priorities and governance is driven by Business users and managers.
  • IT needs/must align its goals/objectives to the Business, yet the Business units goals/objectives are not always aligned with each other.

Any of these barriers hinder IT leaders and organizations from being valued and successful.  They can be mitigated and/or knocked down, but requires a relevant, achievable Strategy, competent People, and consistent, repeatable Processes.  In addition it also takes the IT leaders and staff to embrace/develop these 7 Habits of Excellence.

  • Build  Trust and Credibility
  • Develop  a Proactive Culture
  • Understand  the Company, Business Model, and Industry
  • Align  with Company’s Goals and Objectives
  • Lead  People  -  Manage Things
  • Adapt  to Change
  • Embrace  a Passion for Learning and Improvement


Developing these 7 Habits of Excellence will mitigate or eliminate barriers and result in these IT organization benefits:

  • Faster Throughput (projects and processes)
  • Less Costly (unit costs)
  • Better  Quality (products, software, systems and processes)
  • More Agility  (change)
  • More Capacity  (w/o more resources)
  • Better Risk Management
  • Better Place to Work

What IT paradoxes is your group facing??

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