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9 ways to unify your IT team

By Lou Markstrom | July 26, 2016
Top CIOs discuss the methods they use to unite people in their IT groups.

Does your IT organisation operate as a team? We’ve been talking about how IT is divided from the rest of the organisation for some time and we’ve also recognised the need for IT to stop trying to align with the business and to operate as part of it.

These similar divides must also be broken down within our IT organisations. To become a high performing organisation, IT must operate a single team.

After all, if you asked anyone external how they view IT, they would say as one area. It is doubtful they would respond by saying “architecture, service desk and networks.”

Peter Grant, former CIO at the Queensland Government, says that IT not working together as a unified team is an extremely timely issue that almost all IT organisations he works with are facing.

Here are 9 ways to unify your team:

1. Focus on service to the customer

Grant said that IT teams must know the customer. They must understand how customers benefit from the services being provided.

Elizabeth Wilson, CIO at Edith Cowan University points out that this focus is what will make the links apparent, causing your IT team to see how one area impacts the other, and provide a common view on how to optimise service rather than separate technology.

Peter Wataman, CIO at Flight Centre Travel Group, adds knowing your customers and understanding that their different organisational functions will require different solutions provides an opportunity for your team to work together to make sure these requirements are properly delivered.

2. Have a clear purpose and mission

According to Grant, the starting point for unifying your team is ensuring that it has a clear reason for existing. Merely having the clear reason is not enough; the members of your team must know what it is and be aware of it on a regular basis. If I asked the members of your organisation to write down your team’s purpose and mission, how many would be able to do it? Could you do it?

3. Eliminate ‘discipline bigotry’

Too often in IT, one area thinks their reason for existing is more important than the reasons for other areas and that the organisation would not survive without them. Grant recognised his colleague Alan Chapman for coining the phrase “discipline bigotry” to describe this.

When Wilson took over as CIO at ECU, one of the tasks she undertook to unify her team was to raise the profile of the client support function. She observed that the area was viewed as the low end and least skilled by other staff and struggled to be heard by staff from other areas when trying to respond to client needs.

 

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