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“What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate”

With apologies to Strother Martin and Paul Newman, who spoke the title of this blog in their 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke, I was recently on VoiceAmerica (http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/1984) internet radio, where I was interviewed about this topic, specifically relating to the communication failures between information technology managers and business managers and the impact of virtual teams.

During the podcast, I made observations about these two groups who should be working together very closely – more closely than ever:

  • With only 50% of all technology projects coming in on budget and with full functionality and features, the financial benefit of fixing the problem is significant.
  • Outsourcing and on-shoring have further complicated the relationship by invoking other cultures and more layers of management.
  • Change management is often given short shrift, yet it is the only way to ensure new technology is adopted by the business – this is a business problem that often falls to the technology organization.
  • Consumerization of IT has put technology in an uncomfortable position because corporate IT is just not as simple to deploy and secure as consumer IT.  It’s a fact.  But the simplicity and ease of what consumers can do at home versus what they encounter at work requires a different and more understanding response from information technology organizations.   The notion of ‘can do’ should become part of the corporate IT vernacular.
  • Virtual teams compound the problem – now both cohorts need to be more deliberate.  Chance meetings in hallways and at lunch are no longer alternatives.  Teams need to plan to speak and review plans and deliverables.
  • IT governance can help solidify the technology/business relationship through monitoring of deliverables and provide incremental funding only if business needs are met.

Information technology and business managers should communicate like good friends – easy, ongoing and open discussions, with no hesitancy to raise problems or offer praise.  Let’s not forget that the phrase ‘failure to communicate’ was uttered in a chain gang setting!