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How (and why) to be a Pragmatic Visionary

Joanna Schloss | May 26, 2016
If there’s one characteristic shared by just about everyone in the diverse universe of IT professionals, it’s the desire to work at the leading edge of technology and innovation.

• Asking honest (and often difficult) questions about whether a given technology (old or new) solves problems or just creates new ones

• Understanding the desired business impact of every technology implementation you lead

Easier said than done, of course, but it can be done. For proof, let’s examine the strategic decisions of a CIO (someone I know well who prefers anonymity) at an international construction company. Her vision was to drive down operational costs for her organization by optimizing the way they store data, with the ultimate goal of moving all of the company’s systems into the cloud in a hosted fashion. What she realized early on was that in order to achieve her vision in the long run, she needed to be pragmatic in the short term.

So, rather than making overnight investments in the latest and greatest new technology, she outlined and championed a five-year plan that would over time move the business systems primarily into the cloud. The staged approach allowed them to slowly, over time, reduce their outlay on expensive database licenses and reinvest the savings not only in newer technology, but also in training their employees to effectively operate in the new systems in which they were investing. This investment made it far easier for her to retain her best and brightest even as the organization underwent a dramatic change in the way it ran operations.

She’s now three-years into her five year plan and continually moving closer to the long-term goal laid out at the start of the project, and doing so with a team of well-trained, highly-engaged professionals that feel equally invested in the long-term goal as she does.

For me, that’s what being a pragmatic visionary is all about.


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