The CIO’s Declaration for Potential Partners

I'm giving a talk tomorrow to a group of high performance salespeople for Canon Canada on "Selling to the C Suite". I always enjoy sharing my perspective as a CIO to other groups who we interact with on a regular basis. I'm a firm believer in avoiding words and bullets on Powerpoint slides unless absolutely necessary. In this case, as I prepared the presentation, I felt that it would be interesting to put the context of the presentation into a Rick Mercer type of rant, or the "I AM Canadian" declaration. Below is my attempt.

The CIO’s Declaration for Potential Partners

In my mind, you are not selling me a piece of equipment. The highest value is not on feeds and speeds, or promises, but in your ability to help me solve my problems through a partnership that provides service.
If a piece of hardware assists you in delivering exceptional service that makes my organization more successful, then I will acquire that hardware. This is why the lowest price doesn’t always win the bid.
The successful bidders are those that have found a way to build a valuable relationship long before the RFP goes out. These partners invest in learning about my world, about the things that keep me up at night, and find ways to make it worth my while to break out of my busy schedule to discuss how their services will be an investment. (Hint: Cold calling and asking for a “few moments” of my time will not work.) You make it easy for my team to work with you.
My colleagues and I are loyal to partners who deliver exceptional support, not necessarily to a particular brand.
Ask yourself… “Am I trying to sell a drill, or do I know what kind of hole he needs?”


Random thoughts for future postings.

Here are some thoughts around upcoming discussions on this blog (in no particular order). I've collected them here to capture some ideas.
- Technology should be "invisible" like oxygen. Extremely important for life, but people don't think about it until it's not there.
- How to get people to tell their story. Abandoning the traditional requirements gathering methodology.
- Feeding Geeks. Creating a high performance culture in your IT department
- Never say no, but learn to put a price tag on yes.
- Converting from an IT department to a professional services organization. Your very survival depends on it.
- Schmoozing 101
- People don't buy drills, they buy the ability to make a hole.
- Eating your own dog food. Live the life of your users.
- Technology cannot be prescriptive. Create an endpoint agnostic environment.
- The "Network" is the next killer app.
- Bandwidth / user requirements are skyrocketing. What will you do if everyone on your network connects at the same time?
- Starting at the top. Why technology needs to be fully integrated into your organizational strategic plan.
- How to get a seat at the leadership table.
- What's in it for me? Defining value to your executive and board.
- Sometimes (ok.. all the time) you can't make it on your own. Why you need partnerships.
- What is really core vs. peripheral to your services?
- More to come...


The Soft Skills... Are the Hard Skills

Developing a high performance IT team is more important than the technology you choose. (I'll be spending much time on this topic over the next while).

As IT leaders, we are usually familiar with, if not intimate with technology trends, issues, ROI, strategic technology plans, and more, but have typically not had training in "soft" skills such as managing people, hiring well, strategic thinking, selling the "invisible" concepts, value propositions, etc. Where does one start?

Find time to read good books, find a mentor, find a group of progressive thinkers (e.g. CIO Canada) and build a network. Be willing to invest in yourself, and invest in your team. It's the people who make technology magic by deploying it well.

A good book to start with? In this blog, I'll highlight books from my library that have been instrumental in my thinking. Enjoy.

Patrick Lencioni is an artist in storystelling, who takes a business model around organizational dynamics and makes it make sense. His "5 Dysfunctions of a Team" should be on every leader's shelf.

Check out the book on Chapters Online: http://bit.ly/e6IPZR


If you build it... Will they come?

It never ceases to amaze me that my colleagues in IT continue to quote Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams... using the famous quote to justify equipment expenses and installation of new technology. Invaribly, the new equipment is unused, or circumvented because it did not add value to the people charged with doing the work - those the technology was supposed to help.

From my experience in education, instructional technology will be abandoned at a near 100% rate if it is not reliable, confusing or requires the user to change how things are done. People will not change, or adopt new technology if there is not a personal benefit to doing so. Period.

The old maxim for a successful business has always been "Find a need, and fill it", is no less important for successful technology implementation. An IT project that cannot be tied to an identifiable business need (or strategy) should not be pursued.


Here's what started this notion.

In October 2010, I had the distinction of being awarded Computerworld Canada's IT Leader of the Year Award in the SME division. Suddenly, the ideas I've had for years and worked hard to implement had validation, and even better, people were willing to listen to my out of the box approach to leading high performing technology teams.

A Placeholder... for now

I'll be tweeting at @InvisiTech and will eventually have a website up and running to gather and share my finding.