Making New Year’s resolutions is a tradition dating back to 153 B.C. when Janus, a mythical god of ancient Rome, was the symbol for beginnings and transitions. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back, so he could look forward and backward at the same time.
Just as the Romans started each year by making promises to Janus, 42% of North Americans will make at least one resolution at the beginning of next year. Unfortunately, 88% will have failed to follow through.
Should v. Must
Theories abound, but most agree that change is harder to effect when we think we should, and easier when we know we must. “Should” reflects a sincere desire to improve a situation; “must” represents an absolute determination – even desperation – to do so. Yoda’s celebrated admonition “Do, or do not. There is no try,” applies. If we don’t draw a distinction between simply wanting change versus absolutely needing it, we will be the very definition of double-minded, and nothing truly worthwhile will get done.
In this regard, more than any other, organizations are like people. Organizations are intrinsically motivated to grow (at least in effectiveness, if not also in size). Their leaders recognize change as a necessary constant in the formula for success. Consequently, they are perpetually forced to choose between managing change and instigating it.
Nowhere is this dichotomy more evident than in IT organizations. Information technology initiatives are often budgeted and launched with more of a “here’s what we’re trying to do” attitude rather than a spirit of “do-or-die.” The projects themselves are frequently reactions to technology shifts. They are designed to cope with market pressures rather than revolutionize processes.
Accordingly, IT teams feel torn about the fundamental value of their efforts, and CIOs wonder why management sees IT as an operational cost center instead of a competitive business asset. Only a revolutionary shift in this mindset will produce the kind projects that effectively improve controls, reduce risks, contain costs, increase quality, expand revenues and grow the power of end users.
Among enterprise software vendors, customers have reputations too. Focused CIOs who are unwilling to be deterred by obstacles and have made an irrevocable decision to succeed at all costs tend to buy software with clear goals in mind. They treat solution providers as trusted advisors and strategic assets of the organization instead of an overhead expense. The criteria for doing business is clear, the timelines firm and the resources focused. There is a palpable resolve to drive change rather than accommodate it.
Leading the Way
This is the best way to deal with change. Lead and direct it; otherwise, you’re always trying to survive as best you can, aiming to emerge from every unforeseen shift as safely as possible, always wavering between alternatives.
Janus may have had two faces, but he was the opposite of double-minded. To the early Romans, he epitomized a decisive watershed turning point, a threshold toward purposeful change and a seminal divide from the past.
That being said, as we enter into the new year, I believe the most valuable question IT executives can ask is this: is my team merely managing IT change, or are we strategically leading it?
Sr. VP Corporate Development | Litéra