Build redundancy into your team as well as your technology

Build redundancy into your team as well as your technology

up
349 readers like this
CIO C_Suite

SolarWinds CIO and CTO Joel Dolisy says CIOs are careful to create redundancies around potential failure points in their networks, but not around potential failure points on their teams.


What advice would you give other IT leaders about how to create solid teams?


Solid teams are created by having the right structure in place at every level. Often when IT leaders are under pressure to solve an endless stream of tactical problems, they forget to take a step back and look at the overall shape of their organizations. The urge to fix a lot of tactical problems typically leads to the hiring of a lot of additional entry level staff members who lack the right level of supervision and put a big burden on the rest of the organization. This in turns exacerbates the problem by creating even more chaos on the team.


Another important attribute of a solid team is to avoid single point of failures and have some level of redundancy within the team. This seems like a no-brainer for IT leaders when they design IT infrastructure, but it is surprising how many leaders are putting their operation at risk by not addressing those risks in their (human) organization.


How can technology leaders turn loner techies into a cohesive team?


Some of the most productive IT employees never stop thinking about their job and often take on side projects, or skunkworks, that they feel can provide innovative solutions to problems they are experiencing in their day-to-day life. The challenge for management is to first realize that this type of effort is going on and then try to leverage that creative effort to benefit the business faster.


Often employees decide to tackle those projects because of the lack of perceived innovation within the organization. IT managers are serious about innovation. Therefore, putting in place a strategy that recognizes innovation within the context of business as a core value and the structure to allow it is a good starting point. Successful technology companies have relied on creative time, hackdays, “FedEx Days” [so named because you have to deliver a project overnight], or hackathons to try to structure innovation within their existing process. Those events will foster more collaboration among individual team members and should result in more cohesion within the team as the loner individual contributors realize that others care about building common solutions to the same problems they see.


What are some common mistakes CIOs and other IT leaders make that can damage or destroy a cohesive team?


IT leaders need to fight the urge to close up when problems happen. They should strive to create a more open culture within the IT organization that fosters collaboration with the other parts of the business. IT plays a huge role in the success of the deployment and maintenance of applications that support various parts of the business. Acting in isolation from those stakeholders will reinforce their views that IT is not there to help them, but rather to prevent them from solving their problems quickly. A culture where IT is an integral part of the decision process for selecting new applications and helping remove issues will go a long way in ensuring that IT is a true partner.


Is it more important for IT staff to feel that they are a team with the rest of IT or with the company at large?


All employees in a corporation should feel that they are part of the same team and that their day-to-day activity has some sort of impact on the overall outcome of the business. This is particularly true for IT staff that is often only talked about when problems occur. This can lead to a feeling of isolation that has a negative impact. There has been a tendency in the past to consider the IT department as a purely internal organization that does not need to interact with the other parts of the business. This is far from true and IT definitively needs to be involved intimately with the different projects that are being considered across the company. This involvement will force them to feel that they are part of the same team and not relegated on an isolated island.


What advice would you pass on to other IT leaders about how to create solid teams?


Solid teams are created by having the right structure in place at every level. Often when IT leaders are under pressure to solve an endless stream of tactical problems, they forget to take a step back and look at the overall shape of their organizations. The urge to fix a lot of tactical problems typically leads to the hiring of a lot of additional entry level staff members who lack the right level of supervision and put a big burden on the rest of the organization. This in turns exacerbates the problem by creating even more chaos on the team.


Another important attribute of a solid team is to avoid single point of failures and have some level of redundancy within the team. This seems like a no-brainer for IT leaders when they design IT infrastructure, but it is surprising how many leaders are putting their operation at risk by not addressing those risks in their (human) organization.


Joel Dolisy is Senior Vice President, CIO, and CTO of IT management software provider SolarWinds

Minda Zetlin is co-author with Bill Pfleging of The Geek Gap: Why Business and Technology Professionals Don't Understand Each Other and Why They Need Each Other to Survive. She is a regular contributor to Computerworld and CIO, and a columnist at Inc.com.

Minda Zetlin is a business technology writer and columnist for Inc.com. She is co-author of "The Geek Gap: Why Business and Technology Professionals Don't Understand Each Other and Why They Need Each Other to Survive," as well as several other books. She lives in Snohomish, Washington.

7 New CIO Rules of Road

CIOs: We welcome you to join the conversation

Related Topics

Submitted By Rich Theil
May 28, 2020

Who is your digital transformation really serving - your customers, or your shareholders? Use these exercises to determine where and how to shift focus

Submitted By Eveline Oehrlich
May 28, 2020

When you bring up Robotic Process Automation, many employees still think "job loss." Here's what to know as you shape RPA plans - and deal with team fears

Submitted By Kevin A. Haskew
May 28, 2020

Want to refocus your roadmap and move faster? Here's how we're reviewing which priorities should be added, accelerated, or reconsidered as we plan for the future.

x

Email Capture

Keep up with the latest thoughts, strategies, and insights from CIOs & IT leaders.