10 Lessons Learned from IT Leaders on Driving Transformation

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to be the master of ceremonies at CAMSS Ontario, an IT leaders forum in Toronto sponsored by SINC. Unlike other conferences that I've keynoted and moderated panels at, this one had five participatory sessions. Each session starts with my intro to the topic, a workgroup discussion led by moderators that everyone participated in, and a concluding panel that I moderated. Topics covered AI, devops, security, and multi-cloud.

I captured some real lessons learned from all the participants that I'd like to share with everyone

  1. Simple takes a lot of work - In other words, while technical concepts are easy to understand, executing on them isn't easy. Something to explain to leaders and colleagues, and a reminder to technology leaders to thank your teams for their hard efforts.
  2. KPIs - are you getting better - It's not good enough to capture metrics - capture the strategic ones and use them to drive improvements
  3. Embrace competition - Referring to IT services - many that can now be purchased through cloud services, managed service providers, and SaaS. Asking your teams to solution, build, or be experts at everything is a mistake. 
  4. I’m special I’m unique - A phrase heard by IT leaders everywhere. Our jobs is to make people feel special and unique but deliver practical, sustainable solutions.
  5. Don’t say no - Try saying, "Yes, but" to some of your toughest questions and critics.
  6. IT is not the enabler, it’s the accelerator - Part of  IT leaders' jobs is to execute, but an even more important role is to lead, market, and sell technology solutions that can be a business force multiplier. 
  7. Don’t lose sight of what’s right - Sadly, this is no longer obvious. Leaders have to demonstrate by example.
  8. PhDs you can talk to - An acknowledgment that analytics and data science expertise is only as good as the the communication skills of the person doing the work. 
  9. Hilton bathroom - The story behind this is that many people living Turkey saw their first modern bathrooms when they visited the local Hilton. The name stuck. It's a good reminder to understand the local environment that your teams and customers work in.
  10. I’m a Leaf fan. I’m an optimist - And I'm a NY Ranger fan. Just a reminder that even when transformation programs get tough, be the optimist and lead the team forward!  

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