Pursuing Service with Passion

What's the most important thing the IT department does?

What's the first thing on your list?

And the next? ...and the next?

What if I told you it has nothing to do with technology?

How many things did you cross off your list?

If you showed me your list, I could tell in an instant whether or not you (and subsequently your IT department) have a service mindset.

If your list was all about technology, then I'm afraid to say you are locked in a 20th century model of technology delivery.

One that is destined to go the way of the floppy disk drive - not efficient enough and lacking the capacity to meet the needs of today's organizations.

The ultimate thing the IT department can do is to make people more successful in doing their jobs, to provide departments and organizations the ability to accomplish more and do new things they couldn't do before.

It's that simple.

And that difficult.

But you'll never be able to deliver if you don't have a service mindset.

That doesn't mean technology is unimportant.  It is the tool we leverage to work our magic.

But like the audience at a magic show, our constituents don't need to see how we do our magic. It's about results.

They will measure our success by how successful we help them to be.

It's about service.

As IT leaders, we have to go after building a service organization with same passion as our pursuit of technology.

We need to get out of our comfort zone, and go meet our customers where they are, to find out their issues.

Don't assume you are providing high levels of service just because no one is complaining.

Think about the most commonplace lie of all time.

It's the "I'm fine" lie... usually said in response to the question "How are you?".

There's a version that our customers use.

You send out  survey to ask how the IT department is doing.

Most recipients don't respond.

The ones that do usually tell you you are doing good (rarely excellent, but they don't want to offend you).

There are usually a couple of "poor" rankings.  Here's where human nature takes over.

Statistically, you can chalk up the poor responses to "people who complain all the time" since the majority of the people thought you were good.  "They" must be the problem, not our service. (This is a variation on the Fundamental Attribution Error I highlighted in a previous post).

Don't trust surveys.

Get out, and find out for yourself how you are doing in making people successful.

There's a boatload of things to discuss around service, but I'll save them for future posts.

In the meantime, if "Improving Service Offerings" are not in your top three goals and objectives for your IT department, I'm suggesting you reconsider your list.

Sorry for being so preachy, but I am pretty passionate about this... as passionate as I am about excellently implemented technology.


  1. Kevin. We, inside Intel IT, agree with your passion of delivering business value through technology.

    Our team's vision is to use IT at Intel to deliver a competitive advantage for our business. Each year we capture our approach and document our IT best practices for sharing in an annual Intel IT performance report (http://intel.ly/qaTmTx)

    The process is a journey.

    Chris, IT@Intelsme

  2. Chris,
    Thanks for the comment. It's good to see the larger firms understand the changing role of the CIO and technology departments.

    It's the SME CIOs I'm most passionate about getting the message out to. That's where the change really needs to occur... because it offers one of the biggest contributions to North America retaining (or some may say regaining) a lead in innovation in today's global market.

    Thanks for helping to spread the message.