Social and communication skills are crucial to engage stakeholders, convey technical information, and motivate them to comply with corporate policies.
Technical leadership keeps failing to tame “shadow I.T.” We firmly believe that the problem’s solution is erroneously conceived.
Shadow I.T. includes the procurement and use of I.T. assets by a business unit or individual (e.g., user-developed applications) without the I.T. organization’s knowledge or control. While the business can timely respond to immediate needs, this rogue use of I.T. introduces unknown variables. This lack of visibility haunts technical leadership because of its inherent risks (lack of security updates, poor change management, and ill-documented applications) in an increasingly complex matrix of technologies enabled by pervasive low-cost cloud computing.
UNCHECKED ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY IN AN EVER-INCREASING RISK SCENARIO
According to Snow Software’s “2021 I.T. Priorities Report” a survey involving 1,000 leaders in I.T. and 3,000 workers located in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Germany, differing opinions among I.T. leaders and business teams about technology procurement will lead to an increase in risks caused by shadow I.T.
On the one hand, the report found out that technical leaders may overestimate how easy it is for business units to procure applications, cloud resources, and software. On the other hand, 16% of workers do not believe unmanaged or unaccounted I.T. assets may cause any business issues. This discrepancy could lead to an increase in shadow I.T., a resulting lack of comprehensive governance, and increased risks.
Current strategies that treat these issues as a technical problem that requires just a technical solution are not working. Also, using technical jargon to guide business teams is a bad communication strategy. Worse, blaming business teams for not complying with corporate I.T. policies without listening to their needs creates mistrust and drives them apart, widening the gap between what I.T. teams require and what the business units do to fulfill their I.T. needs.
Internal I.T. organizations can change the game by improving their approach to tackling those companywide issues. In most cases, applying solution design techniques will help better map stakeholders, identify their needs, and design sustainable business-oriented solutions, rather than imposing technical solutions with a low appeal to business units.
This revised approach also requires social and communications skills and active listening to design stakeholder-centric technical solutions. These skills are crucial to engage stakeholders, convey technical information, and motivate them to comply with corporate policies.
SOLUTION DESIGN CAN BE A GAME CHANGER
Typical solution design frameworks start by identifying the problem’s root cause. The ultimate goal is to extract the fundamental reason behind the issue presented and solve it instead of just addressing the symptoms. Starting with questioning why the problem is happening, the I.T. team should keep asking additional why-questions until it identifies the root cause. Only then, start, working on options for mitigating any pain points by addressing their root-cause head-on.
Also, the technical team should work on mapping and engaging the business stakeholders. Who are they? In which organization do they belong? What is critical to them? How do they measure success? This phase is all about empathy, walking in one’s shoes, and showing that the I.T. organization cares about the business team’s success. I.T. teams can empathize with business teams by intentionally listening to them.
Throughout this journey, technical teams must avoid using jargon rather than using business language to communicate technical solutions crafted to solve business problems. Success depends just as much on people as it does on technology. This point is brought home by the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report, which identifies skills that employees and leadership should have to benefit their organizations maximally. Coordinating, cooperating, and communicating with others are some of those critical skills.
Those abilities enable ongoing stakeholder engagement, which means mapping, connecting with, and listening to everyone impacted regularly. Such skills are crucial to designing and implementing sustainable solutions.
I.T. teams can learn to become solution designers who can connect the dots. They can then capture, clarify, and address all stakeholders’ concerns, helping them determine and keep their goals aligned. Before sharing their viewpoints, these technical team members enable success by listening to everyone involved in designing a business-focused technical solution. This approach is a game-changer for the I.T. teams’ success in addressing shadow I.T.
Finally, planning for solution sustainability in the long haul should include both technical and business perspectives. How to do that? Technical teams trained in solution design techniques will include a feedback-loop strategy to capture business units’ dynamic nature. Hence, as the business changes, the technical requirements and the solution architecture will evolve, which will avoid shadow I.T. creeping up from the business’s continuous transformation.
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Originally posted at Forbes.