There is of course a "third way", which involves; bravely and honestly touting to be demoted or opt out all together. Our perception is that most people have mustered enough control to withdraw from following this path, and hence the progress or survive options.
Depending on the answer, our consulting services can take a completely different perspective. With this in mind I have compiled a menu of some Do's and Don'ts for IT managers; whether in the manufacturing and logistics sectors, or not.
its pretty much up to you to force the issue, if you want to make progress. There is no easy path to success in the field of IT management.
So, do you want to progress?
1. Do listen to and understand what is being said.
Misinterpreting or second guessing-even for the most experienced manager-is often risky, and follows a path paved with heartache and dwindling credibility.
The reason is; you have to understand your peer group, and in turn their understanding of all things technical. After all, IT is not their subject matter, and to them it can often appear complex, and costly; and as we all know complex and costly lead to deafness and high blood pressure. By listening and understanding, your chances of setting and meeting their expectations will increase.
The wise amongst us would do well not to follow Harry S. Truman's advice:
"If you can't convince them, confuse them."
2. Don't propose technology changes unless they add-value and save money. Would you spend your own hard-earned wages on something that added no value in your daily life? No. So dont suggest it at work. Investments need agreeing and must deliver value and overall cost reductions; if you cant, don't.
3. Do offer suggestions or resolutions to business issues; even if there is no IT involved.
If you're going to make progress then you need to be creative, and be able to understand what the organisation does, how it operates, and above all else; how you can engage and play an active part in it. Technology is an enabler, but business is the driver. All too often this is forgotten; none more so than during the dotcom boom, or perhaps as it should now be known, the dotcom bust.
4. Don't panic if you're not sure of what to do.
Display an air of confidence of your own abilities and your area of expertise. As my father once said to me "Son, be wiser than other people if you can, but, if you can't don't tell them." Of course, if this doesn't work you can follow Harry S. Trumans Advice.
5. Do take every opportunity to meet and present to your businesses customers. If your organisations customers know you, and see you as someone with something worthwhile to say, then you will have done your reputation no harm. Therefore, it's pretty much up to you to force the issue, if you want to make progress. There is no easy path to success in the field of IT management.
"Ensure you always have some options to fall back on, and if you are going to paint yourself into a corner, make sure the door is behind you."
Or, do you just want to survive;
1. Do listen to what your being told.
This is broadly the same as if you are looking to progress, i.e., listen and understand. The difference is that you need to give back the required response as quickly and as simply as possible, because the clock is ticking and the longer you take, the greater the risk of being left out in the cold.
2. Don't focus too much attention on the long-term strategy.
You're survival will depend on what happens today, tomorrow and in the next six months. Why develop a long-term strategy when it will be defunct by the time you get funding because the business will have moved on so much. You need short-range radar to deal with local issues, so you can sit back and watch the sun go down, because that should be the only thing visible on your horizon.
3. Do propose the lowest cost option-if it is a realistic solution.
Don't propose to spend more money than is needed, because if you do get the funding, you will be held to account for spending it. There's no point in proposing best-in-class or unlimited flexibility, senior management will just see this as an excuse to balance the books, and you could be the balancing entry.
4. Don't make a rod for your own back. Think about what you will have to live with-assuming you survive. Manoeuvring yourself into a corner is easy to do when you're under pressure. Ensure you always have some options to fall back on, and if you are going to paint yourself into a corner, make sure the door is behind you.
5. Do take every opportunity to meet and present to your internal customers.
Survival will ultimately depend on who you know and how much influence they have. The more your internal customers see you, understand you and hopefully support you, the more chance youve got of keeping your job. Ultimately, luck, politics or fate could decide whether you progress or survive, and even when you do achieve your aim it may not be what you expected; and as Oscar Wilde once said:
"In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants and the other is getting it."
What do you want to do; "Progress" or "Survive"..?
Lennox Coutts is Consulting Director for business technology consultancy Tilley & Coutts Associates. The company focuses on rapid evaluation and decision-making for IT related activities, as well as programme start-up and mentoring within the Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Retail and Mail Services sectors.