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How to win friends and influence people

Jack Loo | Aug. 15, 2008
The go-around-visits and Web 2.0 elements are the two solutions I have came across that allow people to understand how the CIO and his IT division work.

During the recent MIS Asia IT Excellence Awards dinner, a CIO commented on some of the unique difficulties someone in his position faces.

Not the usual stuff like meeting project deadlines, planning IT budget or hiring staff but rather, how he has to deal with unrealistic demands from business users in his organisation.

One example was that a junior staff from another business division sent an email directly to him, demanding to fix a minor issue immediately. The CIO felt that the colleague should have gone through a proper channel of communication and not make such an impractical demand.

Perhaps we should do something like letting other departments understand how we work, says the CIO, thinking out loud how he should address such episodes.

One solution to the CIOs woes, from my interview earlier this year with Jason Cowie springs to mind. Cowie is the CIO of Australian construction and civil engineering specialist Macmahon. When he first joined, he embarked on a company-wide tour to ask managers and users what were their IT-related challenges and what they actually thought of the IT division. From his visits, Cowie managed to restructure how his department could support mobile business users and pushed his group to be ranked as the top group in terms of service in Macmahon.

What Cowie has done seems sound as his survey not only gave him an idea of the job scope he had on hand, but allowed his colleagues to see how committed he was, and ultimately IT, in solving issues. This also created a better understanding of his IT division.

Another idea I thought up is to have the CIO market his division to the rest of the organisation. An earlier discussion with Wes Wasson, chief marketing officer, Citrix shed some light on how this can be done.

For instance, when a CIO wants to create awareness for a particular project, Wasson advocates using Web 2.0 tools like blogs and wiki to communicate to the rest of the company. Things like that are organic and get ideas from the community. This is what the new generation of workers are going to appreciate, he says.

Going further, the CIO can put up a simple video on a wiki or blog, explain what he is doing and present his idea on something simple, like a white board, elaborates Wasson. Just expose that to the community and say give us comments. The employees will just absolutely laugh it out. So this is enlightening, this is exciting and they will win that influence.

Besides creating awareness, Wasson explains the CIO would be able to find a lot of great ideas coming back from the users that they probably didnt even think about during the planning process.


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