Reaching for the Stars

Reaching for the Stars

It is the New Year, a time of reflection and resolution. A time where you may be asking yourself, “What is my purpose in life?”  If this sounds familiar, please honor me in helping you find your purpose.

 Explore the Things You Love

 Let us begin to explore your passion and purpose by outlining what you love doing and what comes easy to you.

 I love to coach, advise, consult, facilitate and develop transformational workshops. Most of all, I love bringing teams together for discussions and co-creating new approaches to our work. I invested many years in learning to master Executive Coaching skills. It was not easy, but I loved every second of it. We know it takes work to develop your talents – even the most gifted athletes must practice before their sport feels natural to them.

 I spent the first 20 years of my career attempting to master technical skills before finally admitting to myself that I would never enjoy Technology for the sake of Technology. However, at the same time, I experienced the ultimate joy of helping businesses apply the technology and leading Technologists in finding their path to success.

 If you are constantly struggling, you are most likely not living your purpose. In other words – hard work may be required, but suffering is not! A mentor once said to me, “If you keep butting your head on the wall and it hurts, you may want to stop and find a way around the border.” You get my point.

What Is Most Meaningful?

 First, ask yourself: “What are the two or three qualities I most enjoy expressing in the world?”

In the past, I focused on love and joy. Today I have expanded love to “grace.” To me, grace is going out of our way to gift love, compassion, and kindness to others, even when they might not appreciate it or return the favor. Grace must start with me.

Second, ask yourself: “In what ways do I most enjoy expressing these qualities?”

Mine are by inspiring and empowering people. I love my job as a Coach.

Create a Life Purpose Statement

 Everybody lives their highest vision of doing, being, and having everything they want in my perfect world. Create a life purpose statement by taking 30 minutes to write or draw out your description of what the world would look like if it were perfect in your vision. This vision will provide you with a clear idea of your purpose.

My life purpose statement is Inspiring and empowering people to live their vision in a context of joy and grace for themselves and others.”

 I inspire people with my stories in articles and posts and share them in coaching sessions. I empower others by helping them to discover powerful success strategies that they can apply in their own lives and on the job.

Listen to Your Heart

 What if I told you that you already have it within you to find your path forward?

It can be thought of as your inner GPS. Your internal GPS is similar to the GPS used in your car or on your phone. It tells you how to get from point A to point B.

When you get in your car and head to a specific destination, what is the first thing you input into your GPS? Your intended destination. The navigation system figures out and plots a perfect course for you. First, it finds your current location and once it determines where you are, it gives you directions to where you are heading.

Okay, it might not always be perfect or the most scenic route, but it always gets you there. All it needs to know to work is your beginning location and your end destination. From that point on, all you must do is follow the instructions to reach your intended goal.

It is the same in life. To start, you need to determine your goals – where you want to go, where you want to be. You decide where you want to go by clarifying your vision, then you lock in your destination through goal setting, affirmations, and visualization. At that point, start taking the actions that will move you in the right direction.

Every time you express a preference for something, you define an intention. What is it that you want – a promotion, a home in the country, a loving relationship?

You “input” the destination you want to get to with every picture you visualize. All these images and thoughts are creating the foundation for a positive mindset.  If you stay out of its way – meaning you do not interrupt the process with a stream of negative thoughts, doubts, and fears, your inner GPS will keep relaying the next steps in your route as you continue to move forward.

As you clarify and remain focused on your vision (you can even do this with a vision board.), the exact steps will keep appearing along the way in the form of internal guidance – helping to create ideas and new opportunities.

Be Clear About Your Life Purpose

 Once you are clear about what you want and stay focused on it, how will you keep showing up? Sometimes or just when you need to and not a moment earlier?

You were born with an inner guidance that tells you when you are on or off course by the amount of joy you are experiencing. The things that bring you the greatest joy will align with your purpose and get you to where you want to go.

As an exercise, take some time to think honestly and openly about where you currently are in your life and what you want to do with your life.

Now think about where you would like to be. If your life were perfect right now, what would it look like? What would it feel like? What would be different? What kind of job would you have, and where would you live?

By continually doing this exercise, you’ll send powerful triggers to your subconscious mind to help you get there.

 Think About the Greatest Joy in Your Life

 Another technique you can use to help you identify your purpose is to conduct a “Joy Review.” I pattern the concept of a joy review on this article I found a couple of years ago in Prevention: How to Find Joy in Your Everyday Life (Even When Life Feels Awful)

 Set aside about 30 minutes and make a list of the times you’ve felt the greatest joy in your life. Then determine if there is a pattern among these times.

In my case, I realized my “pattern of joy” came from leading large-scale, exciting programs with large teams where I was able to inspire and empower the team members to go for their career dreams. Today I recognize this same joy in every Client’s success and the feedback from their Sponsor.

Since we know that joy is part of your internal guidance system telling you when you are on course, you can determine a lot about your life purpose from completing this joy review.

 An Example of Finding Purpose

 One of my coaching clients, a successful CIO, struggled to identify her purpose beyond her role as a corporate leader. I suggested another exercise and asked her to look back over her life and answer the question, ” When have I felt most fulfilled?” She shared three periods in which she felt the happiest and most fulfilled.

First, she told me about her grandmother teaching her to bake and sew while a young girl in the Midwest.

The second was her experience of playing with her grandchildren and the delight they bring her.

The third was a two-week camping vacation with her family in the Rocky Mountains when her children were younger.

When I asked her what was common to all three of these experiences, she told me it was the sense of joy she felt and the love for those she experienced it with.

We noticed that none of her three experiences related to her profession in IT. I then asked her to tell me about her most fulfilling experiences as an IT leader.

The stories she recounted were ones of individuals she watched grow under her mentorship and observing teams coming together to deliver results that were considered to be impossible. She learned her true purpose and personal success came from seeing those she had the honor to mentor and lead, flourish.

Take Time for Yourself

 As we examined her life further, it became apparent that she took very little time for herself. She was always working late and over-committed. I asked her why she thought that was the case. She paused before answering, “Because it is expected.”

 My further questions probed deeper into the true ‘why” which helped the problem to become clearer. Over the years she developed the habit many are cursed with – “Just one more.” Just one more push, just one more meeting… “Just one more” will make a difference until that is all we know, leading us to lose ourselves along the way.

 The turning point was when I asked, “At what cost?” She reflected quietly before emotionally responding, “At the cost of my marriage and the relationship with my children.” And then she asked, “Is it too late to make a change?” 

 I assured her it was not too late and that anyone could change if their “why” was strong enough. We continued our session, penetrating her why and discussing tactics and approaches for gaining control of her time, calendar, and life.

 Your Purpose is your North Star

 We all know what we’re supposed to be doing, but we must be awake and pay attention to it. Once you know your life purpose, allow it to be your North Star, your guiding light, and organize all your activities around it. Everything you do should be an expression of your intention. If an activity or goal doesn’t fit that formula, don’t work on it!

 Aligning your purpose with your actions is most critical when setting professional goals, potentially giving you more flexibility in your personal life. Either way, learn when to say no and when to go for it with gusto!

 If you want to learn to play the piano or learn to golf, go ahead and do it! Get help and take lessons where needed. If your goal is to get fit, what stops you from moving forward with confidence? Caring for yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually will make you more energized, resilient, and motivated to live your purpose on the personal and professional front. Only you can take action. Own it.

 If you dread Monday mornings and live for the weekends, it may be a sign that it’s time to follow your heart and pursue the work you long to do. Don’t ignore the signs that your job or career is unsuitable for you. Now is the time to seek help in figuring out your alternatives.

 Lean into Your Purpose

 When you have gained more clarity about your purpose, you don’t need to overhaul your complete life all at once. Instead, lean into it, one small step at a time. Start living a little more purposefully every day and pay attention to the feedback you receive from others, the results you produce, and how you feel. Soon it will feel as natural as riding a bike.

In Closing 

 We all have dreams and ambitions. There is no better time to start acting on them than now. Ask yourself these questions:

  1.  Are you where you want to be?
  2. Have you accomplished what you set out to achieve by now?
  3. Do you enjoy your life?
  4. Do you look forward to your workweek?
  5. Are you satisfied with the balance between work and home life?

If not, I challenge you to take stock of your life and reach for the stars. Everyone can cultivate success and discover their life purpose with the right mindset. You deserve it.

Happy New Year,


4 Steps to Safe Cost Cutting

4 Steps to Safe Cost Cutting

It is no secret that many industries and market’s bottom line profits are being walloped by the COVID-19 impacts. The impact is real. You have been asked to cut a substantial portion of the IT budget and fast. Your challenge is to deliver the reductions needed while maintaining services. Join me in exploring an approach to tackling the challenge as safely as possible.  
Let us begin. 


1. Start with a solid understanding of the current state of IT Spend:  How much and in what places 

Let me share an analogy…You need surgery! Can you imagine allowing a surgeon to start cutting without diagnostic tests identifying the root of your health issue? As scary as that concept might be, you must perform the same diagnostics before you start a cost-cutting initiative.
How do you know where to cut unless you know the costs and drivers?
I am not talking about the need for a Total Cost of Ownership analysis. I am advocating that you understand your spending from a high level. It is most useful to sort spend into three different views: 

IT Spend by Strategic Category 

Most IT costs sit in the Run category of spend (average of 65-70% percent of the total budget). Run costs are typically committed contract costs. Unfortunately, we see these costs rising each year unless there has been a continuous program to control run costs. The Grow category focuses on enhancing business processes with new IT-based capabilities, whereas Transform is in support of new business activities. 
The first opportunity here is in the creation of a center of excellence comprised of IT, Finance, and Key business operational representatives tasked with ensuring the continuous improvement in the efficiency of IT services. The need for business representation is strategic. It is also an excellent opportunity to solicit their input into the reduction of Run service delivery expectations.  
More important, it is an excellent time to educate the business on the operational impact of IT investment decisions. Without this education and attention, trailing maintenance costs increase the run costs of the business by 15-20% year over year as illustrated in the chart below.   

IT Spend by Cost Component

These days, the most substantial portion of IT costs for most organizations is associated with internal staff and outsourcing. Improving cost-effectiveness and enabling cost reductions will require a detailed look at services by category and identification of duplication of services while exploring alternative delivery models.  

The opportunity here is to look deep into each cost component to understand the opportunities to renegotiate, extend, or eliminate contracts or services. This is also the time to take a deep look, often for the first time, at the organizational design and staff skills inventory in preparation of a likely call to reduce staff or headcount.  

Do you know who your essential team members are?  

IT Spend by Technology Domain  

IT spending is spread across a combination of infrastructure, application, service desk, and IT management workload areas.
Experience shows us that there are real opportunities for significant cost savings and service improvements in each of these areas. Areas of cost reduction opportunities might include renegotiating service contracts, extending service life, consolidating data centers, or reducing the number of applications.  

2. Next, look for opportunities to cut costs.   

  • Quick cost-saving “WINS”: Scrutinize in-flight or planned Grow or Transform initiatives to eliminate or defer anything that does not contribute to immediate cost reductions or profit margin increase.
  • One-time hard savings (current spending or next budget cycle}: Reduce fixed costs by a set amount in the present or future budget cycle/quarter.  
  • Recurring hard savings (current spending or next budget cycle): Reduce variable costs regularly, proportionate to volume, in the present, or next budget cycle/quarter.
  • Reduced future costs: Savings on what would have been spent during out years. For example, renegotiating a three to five-year maintenance contract reduces savings in out years, which should be captured and tracked, but don’t have the same cash-flow impact as savings in the current or next budget cycle.
  • Expense deferral: Taking an action that will result in an expense being due and payable at a future date, rather than during the current time period. Many cost optimization efforts make the mistake of not differentiating between putting off a cost into the future and making structural changes that will reduce the long-term run rate. 
  • Staff/Headcount reductions: Reduction in force is never easy and often results in significant lost productivity. Analyze your skills inventory against critical functions and talk in detail. Without this level of scrutiny, staff reductions represent the highest risk of cutting to the bone. It is essential to have a clear understanding of the functions of every team member.
 As you list your opportunities for cost cutting, keep in mind that not all cost cutting efforts are helpful. There is a downside to attempting the wrong kind of cuts. Some can be quite dangerous to the intended outcome as well as IT’s reputation. Here are a few to consider:

3. Finally, inform and negotiate cost-cutting targets

Most often, IT cost reduction goals are dictated by the CEO or CFO with directives such as “Cut your total cost by X%.” This is understood. At the same time, the CIO will demonstrate managerial courage in clearly articulating and informing the business of both the positive and negative impact of that directive.  When opportunities and risks are articulated in clear business terms, the CIO can earn the right to negotiate the goal in partnership with the business leadership.  

4. Last, execute against the plan  

Seriously, this is hard stuff. By putting the extra effort in the analysis, you will be better positioned to manage costs and be prepared for the next time. There is always a next time. 
Feel free to contact us with questions we left unanswered or if you could use help in getting started.   
Stay Safe, 
Mary Patry and Martha Hein

Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

IT Executives Are Facing Unprecedented Times

IT Executives Are Facing Unprecedented Times

IT Executives share a lot in common with the best athletes. They play on a team that is always working hard to gain success after success. They’re motivated by the need to improve and broaden their skills and play more consistently. At the same time, they face pressure from all sides, even during regular times. The added weight of supporting remote working requirements caused by COVID-19 may feel overwhelming. Overnight their focus pivoted from strategic thinking as the CIO to tactical needs thinking as the CCO – Chief Connectivity Officer. The game changed under their feet.

How are effective IT Leaders performing during this time of unprecedented impact as more is expected of them and their teams than ever before?

Highly Competitive – The best IT executives are very competitive, especially with themselves! They take pride in having the best, most-efficiently operating IT department. They take pride in achieving faster development cycle times, in adopting the latest technologies and methodologies first, in enjoying the gratitude of the departments they serve.

Must know their stuff and be very well trained and conditioned – Beyond high proficiency with technologies that are core to their enterprise, IT executives must also be continually conditioning themselves to successfully manage the many diverse talents and personalities that form any IT organization. The tremendously intelligent people involved in most IT teams require a sophisticated leader who can bring out the best in them.

To lead the team, they must be part of the team – Legendary symphony conductor Leonard Bernstein observed that to be a great conductor, one must be able to play each instrument in the orchestra, mostly. Hence, that conductor would understand and appreciate what each musician was experiencing. Just like a sports team, IT teams respect and admire a leader who truly comprehends their expertise, and themselves.

The more coaching they get, the better they perform, and the better the results they produce! – Even the most proficient high performing athletes will readily share praise for what their coach does for them. Similarly, executive coaches are most often engaged to focus on those with high potential to improve from wherever they currently are.

While many CIOs are going it alone, others are finding great value in calling on trusted relationships with their Executive Coach.

What to Look for in Your IT Executive Coach

Credibility – The first thing most leaders seek an IT executive coach is credibility. It’s one thing to have training and certification in professional coaching and advisory, that’s certainly very valuable. But, IT executives also want and need someone who truly understands and appreciates their world and what they experience each day. Someone who has invested years working as an IT executive comes with a level of credibility that is priceless.

Objectivity – IT Executive coaching is not like consulting or therapy. Despite their practical executive experience, you don’t go to them to share your feelings or ask them how to do anything or to validate how you do things. You look to them to be the objective outsider who looks at the challenges you present with no hidden agenda. You are looking for someone who can help you self-evaluate your performance, identify where you may have weaknesses that require correction, and establish areas where improvement will take you from merely good to truly great, best-in-class.

Clarity – Companies often invest in their most promising executives for coaching to accelerate their progress. Individuals also seek coaching when they want to accelerate the growth of their career, and when they have specific challenges, they’re not sure how to address. Their Executive Coach provides clarity in the process of improvement, helping to overcome the obstructions we often put in our way to avoid confronting uncomfortable truths about our actions.

Mutual Respect – A healthy coaching relationship requires mutual respect and trust. If these two elements are not part of the relationship, nobody is going to benefit. An executive must be able to trust they can confide in their coach without fear of judgment.

Motivation – Great coaches take an honest interest in the businesses they help and the executives they coach. If you want to see me get excited, talk to me about past or current successes, and watch me light up with enthusiasm. A good coach is motivated to discover who you are beyond your role as a leader and executive. They take an interest in why your business exists, how the business is run, and what they do to serve their customers. Once your prospective coach gets to know you and your business, that’s the kind of interest and motivation you should expect to see.

Vocation – For the genuinely excellent business or executive coach, coaching is never a job; it is a vocation. My journey into coaching provides me proof of this truth. Grant you, it took me over fifty years to discover my real purpose. And it took a coach to help me find it. When I did, my stars aligned. More importantly, I don’t regret my years as an IT practitioner, leader, and executive. These experiences provided me with the foundation and context to understand the world my clients live in without a great explanation.

What to Expect from a Quality Executive Coaching Experience

Your Executive Coach will begin by developing a clear understanding of your individual “current state,” focusing on where you see yourself positioned right now both from an organizational and personal performance perspective. Next, they’ll work with you to establish a clear definition of your “desired future state” and then structure a series of interactions to help you achieve that improvement.

Certified Executive Coaches will also provide structured experience assessments such as the BATES EXPI Executive Presence Assessment to dive deeper into your self-perceptions and provide more insight. And don’t worry about finding a qualified, certified executive coach near you…most are!!

Your engagement will continue beyond the scheduled interactions to include ad-hoc access to your Executive Advisor for answers to questions and clarifications on specific topics and points.

Anticipate Great Outcomes

Of those who’ve enjoyed Executive Coaching experiences, most appreciate the apparent improvements in communication and leadership skills they’ve achieved, saying it has improved their confidence and broadened their understanding of the executive experience. Ready to grow in their careers, they’ve taken the bold step of preparing a qualified successor and defined desirable growth paths for all their key team members. Most of all, they feel more a part of their company’s leadership team.

In Closing

An athlete does not get off the bench without the core capabilities. The coach helps them to find the inner strength and skills to excel. The same applies to the IT Executive. The life of the IT executive is wrought with challenges and setbacks. I predict the fallout from COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on how IT looks and the impression they leave. You don’t have to figure it out on your own. You may know where you want to go, and perhaps even have a good idea on how to get there, but a professional coach can offer the untarnished insight, feedback, and guidance you need to become a star player.

I am offering to help a limited number of CIO’s on a complimentary basis if you find you need a trusted colleague to bounce ideas around with or if you want to share in order to help solve a problem.


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

There Will Be A Tomorrow

There Will Be A Tomorrow

Our publishing schedule called for discussing IT’s role in supporting Merger and Acquisitions.  We seriously questioned the applicability of this topic at this time with IT at the forefront of helping organizations keep afloat, and people stay connected.  Never have I been more proud of my IT friends and colleagues than now.  They are doing what they do naturally and have stepped up to the plate to expand remote working capabilities and improve security foundation quickly.
As we thought through this decision, we came to a sobering realization.  There will be a tomorrow that will bring change represented by challenges and opportunities.  One of the opportunities that may be driven by challenges is an upswing in mergers, divestitures, and acquisitions.  With that realization, we decided to move forward with the conversation as planned.
M&A Consideration Overview
Lets’s start with an overview of the standard framework, often referred to as the Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) Playbook.  M&A literature abounds, but M&A Playbooks all have a similar table of contents.  For IT, the chapters are sure to include:
  • The M&A Playbook:   Have a playbook of the well-defined yet flexible process; if you do not have a playbook, develop one.  A well-designed playbook is analogous to a good cookbook.  It focuses on the basic methods and properties of different ingredients before getting to the actual recipes.
  • M&A Resources:   If M&A is core to your company’s growth strategy, keep IT M&A integration expertise on reserve ready to be called up as soon as confidentiality considerations allow.  Obviously, you will not keep an entire team on the bench between M&A deployments, but you should identify who on your team can be called on to lead the next charge.

  • Due Diligence:  Get invited to join the Due Diligence team early in the process.  This will allow you to more accurately forecast the scope for carrying out the integration and assess the acquired company’s IT landscape.  You can shed light on the state of maturity in each of the acquired company’s IT domains by how readily they can address the standard list of Due Diligence questions about hardware inventories, business applications portfolio, IT business management practices (including budgets, contracts, and expense schedules) and the skills and competencies of their IT human resources.  Information discovered through the Due Diligence process is essential to the Integration Planning process.
  • Integration Planning:  There is often a more or less self-evident logical order to the projects that make up an M&A program due to inherent dependencies.  Assemble and field your team(s), establish secure connectivity, harmonize e-mail (roll out new while maintaining access to old), triage, and plan business application integration.

  • Day 1/Welcome:   This will be the only chance you will get to make a good first impression with many of your new colleagues.  Organizational Change Management (OCM) is especially crucial for Day One activities.  Plan and execute wisely!

  • Integration Execution:   While executing on your Integration plan, you will be balancing on the tight rope between two competing imperatives.  Execute as swiftly as possible while minimizing the inevitable disruption to the business (both the acquirer and the acquired).

  • Monitor Benefits Realization: The IT Business Office often spearheads this agenda.  Identify and quantify cost reductions or cost avoidance enabled through an economy of scales and/or portfolio rationalization.
The M&A Gap
What too many M&A playbooks lack is the details for a robust Organizational Change Management (OCM) Plan.  Your OCM Plan needs to be developed well before the deal closes as change management is critical to the success of your M&A program and you need to be prepared to execute specific OCM tasks as soon as the transaction is announced.  IT should partner with Corporate Communications, Human Resources, and the business stakeholders in the various M&A project teams to coordinate corporate-wide change and corresponding communications and training for the acquired company’s employees and, as appropriate, the acquiring company’s employees. Your OCM Plan should also include customers, suppliers, and other external stakeholders.
M&A Organizational Change Management  
IT needs to ensure its messaging is consistent with corporate goals and policy statements, is timely, and is as transparent as possible.  To do so, you must be clear on the M&A goals (increase market share, new business capabilities). Integration approach (run acquired company as a stand-alone entity, adopt best practices from either acquiring or acquired company, implement acquired company systems and processes or some hybrid of the preceding options) as these should inform your OCM Plan.
Be sensitive to the human element.  Many of us in IT are strong in the myriad of technical aspects of M&A integration.  Unfortunately, given our fixation on objective analysis and drive towards effective and efficient solutions, sometimes we are quick to overlook or dismiss the adverse phycological impact of change.  Expect resistance to change and develop mitigation strategies.  Arrange to have thoughtful mechanisms in place to address the fear factor proactively and honestly.  Enable feedback and two-way dialogue to provide a means for on-going stakeholder engagement.
To know who needs to know what and when, it is helpful to make it your business to learn who is who, who is where and what is where.   Get to know the organizational structure of the acquired company(s). Then use targeted communications as a tool to enable change.
A simple OCM framework for each IT project in an M&A program is as follows:
  1. What’s coming when 
    • What is the impact 
    • What actions, if any, are required 
    • “What’s in it for you” 
  2. Specifics on IT policy changes 
  3. Specifics on business systems changes 
  4. Training program and schedules 
  5. Go Live announcements 
Do not allow OCM to become an afterthought in your M&A Playbook.  Instead, have a master OCM Plan and weave its well-coordinated components through each M&A phase inside and outside of IT.
In Closing
Every chapter of the M&A Playbook warrants careful consideration.  If tomorrow is likely to bring M&A opportunities your way, my colleague, Mary Patry, and I are available to discuss how to improve your M&A  planning and execution.
Today, we send along with sincere wishes that you and yours remain healthy and hopeful.  In support of that wish, Mary Patry is offering to help a limited number of CIO on a complimentary basis if you find you need a trusted colleague to bounce ideas or sharing in helping to solve a problem.
You can learn more about Martha at:

Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Four IT Spend Questions in Need of Answers

Four IT Spend Questions in Need of Answers

Effective IT management is not necessarily about spending less – or more; it’s about allocating dollars, resources, and talent wisely and monitoring for benefits realization on many fronts.

Surprisingly, many IT organizations do not harvest the data nor have disciplines in place to readily answer a few seemingly easy questions about their IT investments:

  1. Where are our IT dollars, resources, and talent deployed today?
  2. Do we have the data and processes in place to present a business view of IT investments?
  3. How do our IT resource allocations, costs, and performance compare to others in the industry, especially top performers?
  4. Are our IT investments aligned to business objectives?

Although closing in on the answers may be a never-ending journey, Martha Hein, one of ITeffectivity’s Executive Advisors and a Cost Management extraordinaire, outlines the steps you can take to get there

Let’s get started!

1. Where are our IT dollars, resources, and talent deployed today?

Running the Business of IT depends on the timely availability, analysis, and understanding of quantifiable IT financial and operations data. To demonstrate benefits realization and the value being delivered to the business, IT must first be able to communicate what services are being provided, at what cost and for what return. The first step to answering this question is to compile your data into a scalable model. Data sources include extracts from your financial systems (actual spend by GL and Cost Center, fixed asset registers, prepaid services balance sheets, Purchase Orders, etc.), HR, Payroll and Timekeeping systems as well as IT systems (Active Directory, CMDB, Infrastructure and Applications Monitoring, Service Ticketing, etc.).

Data models are useful tools to measure how your dollars, resources, and talent are being spent today and may elucidate how these might be more profitably spent tomorrow. Data models and taxonomies vary, but the Technology Business Management (TBM) Council1 provides an excellent public domain example of the inputs required to gather the foundational data necessary to answer this question.

This data provides the first building blocks required for transparent fact-based communications between IT and business leaders.

2. Do we have the data and processes in place to present a business view of IT investments?

As stated above, the IT Financial and IT Functional views of your IT investments are the first building blocks used for running the Business of IT. The endgame, however, is to have a clear Business view of IT investments. To create a Business view, you must reframe IT investments from a business perspective. Arriving at a Business view requires additional analysis of the above data and may require other inputs.

Business leaders are interested in achieving operational excellence and realizing profitable growth, innovation, and transformation for their organizations. To deliver optimal value to the businesses they serve, IT organizations must proactively manage their investments and services portfolios to become enablers, or better yet, drivers of these business objectives. From a Business perspective, running effective and efficient day-to-day IT operations is merely to provide a commodity service.

Demonstrate you do more than keep the lights on by enhancing your data model to enable you to report on IT investments along business dimensions.

  • Business partners are often not aware of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a given IT business service, the full price tag to implement, or the support cost of the technology for a given business capability. Develop a Bill of IT to provide a view of your IT investment portfolio that reveals TCO by business service and/or Line of Business. Help your business partners understand the cost drivers (without burdening them with the details of all the moving parts under the IT hood). Ideally, you understand the cost components well enough to be able to provide counsel on how to favorably impact cost without adversely impacting service levels or creating undue risk. For example, is business demand commensurate with business value? Can you move away from Tier 1 storage or reduce the number of user application licenses without impacting productivity?  
  • Demonstrating return on investments requires that you identify the criteria that will be used to measure benefits realization and then establish a baseline against which to measure outcomes. Work with your business partners to define criteria and baselines, then implement on-going monitoring of benefits realization based on agreed-upon measures.

3. How do our IT resource allocations, costs, and performance compare to others in the industry, especially top performers?

Measuring your cost and service performance against industry benchmarks can uncover opportunities for efficiency improvements, thus allowing you to do more with less. Or, more of what is profitable, less of what is marginal, and none of what is just plain wasteful. You will use the data gathered to answer the above questions and simple arithmetic to answer question No. 3. Total IT spend divided by Corporate Revenue equals IT Cost as Percent of Revenue. IT Dollars spent divided by Units supported/produced equals Unit Cost. Setting up the formulas for performance measures may be trickier and the results may not be as objective, but is still relatively uncomplicated. You meet or exceed your Service Level Agreements ##% of the time. On average, you get either an X or a Y on Customer Satisfaction Surveys.

As an important caveat, industry benchmark data typically provides averages. When put in context, there may be legitimate business-driven reasons why your organization’s results vary from others in the industry. For example, if your business strategy is to pursue aggressive growth through Mergers and Acquisitions, you will need to funnel resources from Run the Business and Transform/Innovate the Business to Grow the Business and/or accept a higher cost of IT as a percent of Revenue. In another example, if you are aggressively pursuing rapid innovations in your product R&D pipeline, you may want to overlook typical storage costs in favor of being able to model and readily access every permutation of promising molecular structures.

4. Are our IT investments aligned to business objectives?

Start with an easy top-down mapping exercise. Utilize your organization’s core business strategies. Ideally, IT leadership was at the table when these were defined. Identify the core competencies2 and specific Business and IT capabilities that are required to support the strategy. Map the IT programs that support each of the pillars of the strategy.

In Closing

It is difficult to know with any degree of certainty if your IT investments are aligned to your business objectives until you have at least preliminary answers to the previous questions. Do not allow a possible lack of a comprehensive data set to detract from taking proactive action.

We will cover additional aspects of running the “Business of IT” in future articles. We welcome your feedback on what has worked well for your organization and where you continue to feel pain points.

Until next time – we are here if you have questions or want to talk!

Martha and Mary

Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

It is GOOD for YOU to Show You Care

It is GOOD for YOU to Show You Care

A few years ago, I observed a new IT executive snap at his lead technical architect about what did not seem to be a major transgression. Later in the day, I witnessed an even more aggressive and public criticism of a project manager during a quarterly program review. I can still see the embarrassment and devastation in the project manager’s eyes. More importantly, the silence in the room screamed of the intimidation felt by everyone present.  
I pulled him aside in private after the meeting and asked if everything was okay. He was a smart guy with a career built on his technical prowess. I did not know him well, so I wanted to see if I could be of help and give him the benefit of my understanding. You can only imagine my surprise when he replied in a cheerful tone that everything was great. I did not let it go. My reply was something to the order of “Really?” 

Upon further conversation, I came to understand that his gruffness was a purposeful put on. How would his team respect him if he was “nice?” In his mind, they would see him as a pushover. When in fact, his team lived in fear of his outbursts.  

In the beginning, his blustering behavior appeared to be working for him in the eyes of his leadership. After all, his reputation was built on innovative solutions and delivery of his commitments. It took poor employee engagement ratings and high turnover before the organization recognized his behavior as toxic. Fortunately, they provided him executive coaching, and he was astute enough to realize the need to change. 

This was certainly a rare worst-case scenario. Or was it?  

Picture this; it may bring the answer to life:  Do you know of any highly intelligent, very technical person who isn’t socially adept and stuck in their career? A lack of EQ is often the reason you find many people with advanced degrees struggling to move up the ranks on the job. 

How is Emotional Intelligence related to my IQ?

In straightforward terms, your IQ is what you know. It is an assessment of your cognitive skills such as literacy, numeracy (yes is a word, I looked it up), and spatial awareness. It is easy to recognize someone with a high IQ by their language, mathematical, and analytical skills.

EI is your ability to manage your emotions and reaction to other people. EI is about how you feel and how others feel about you. It is that soft squishy stuff many IT professionals would prefer to avoid.

Until these wonderfully technically intelligent team members recognize the limiting factors of a low EI, they may never see the need or want to improve.

Part of the challenge with understanding EI is that it is a modern concept. The original theory of emotional intelligence as identified in the early 1990s by two American Psychologists, Peter Solovey and John Mayer defined it as a learned ability to perceive, understand, and express our feelings and to control our emotions so that they work for us.

The concepts were further expanded and popularized by David Golemen1 in his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence. In his best-seller, he writes that Emotional Intelligence:

“refers to the capacity for recognizing our own feeling and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” 

Since then dozens of books, TedTalks, and YouTube videos have been published on the subject of EI. The bottom line is that knowledge of Emotional Intelligence enables you to identify what feels good and what needs to change. Maintaining and developing emotional awareness and sensitivity helps you to stay positive. Positive attitudes result in a much higher level of motivation for yourself and others.

How does Emotional Intelligence impact my career?  

Unless you are in a position of never having to interact with other people, weaknesses in your emotional intelligence can seriously harm your career. It most certainly will hamper your career progression.

Center for Creative Leadership research confirms the most common causes of career derailment are predictable: 

  • Difficulty adapting to change (the most frequent cause of derailment)
  • Difficulty building and leading a team
  • Failure to deliver business results
  • Lacking a broad, strategic orientation
  • Problems with interpersonal relationships

Another study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development showed that as much as 80% of the reason careers are derailed was due to weaknesses in Emotional Intelligence. Their study found that the three primary reasons for career failure were; poor interpersonal skills (e.g. oral and written communication, listening), not being a good team player (e.g. non-collaborative, loner) and not adaptive to change (i.e. at best resists, at worst sabotages change initiatives).

Both studies point back to EI characteristics.

To bring this to life, take a moment to reflect on a manager, leader, or peer who you believe to be successful.  What qualities do they possess that you think helped contribute to their success? Then take a moment to reflect on the managers, leaders, and peers that you have avoided. It should not be hard for you to find the contrasts.

If you have high levels of EI, average intellectual abilities, and excellent technical skills, you are well placed for career success. Good indicators of career success are:

  • Ability to manage your reaction to frustrations
  • Ability to deal with a diverse range of issues
  • Ability to manage your own emotions
  • Ability to manage your social skills.
    NOTE: EI refers to managing your own emotions, not the feelings or behaviors of those around you.

Nearly all jobs require people to work together effectively. Employees with high emotional intelligence are highly sought after. The most effective IT managers are those with high emotional intelligence, despite average or less than average technical skills or intellect.

Can Emotional Intelligence be learned? 

Yes, the good news is that anyone can grow and develop their EQ through learning and practicing. With conscience focus, our EQ will change the more we build understanding of our feelings and emotions. One of the neat things about humans is that working to change our attitudes changes our emotions as well. How we reacted to a situation 3, 5 or 10 years ago will be very different from how we react today. Think about a negative situation in your past, name the emotions felt and the resulting outcome. How would you have felt or reacted if it was happening today? Have the emotions changed?

There are self-improvements tactics you can take to evolve your EQ. The first step is a solid mindset that you need and want to build your EQ. Mindset is part belief and part attitude. A mindset refers to whether you believe qualities such as intelligence and talent are fixed or changeable traits. You either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe their qualities and capabilities are fixed and unchangeable. Those with a growth mindset believe that their capabilities can be developed and strengthened by way of hard work, practice and commitment. I firmly believe that you grow your EQ if you adopt a growth mindset. Changing your mindset takes work. Often, it also takes help from a coach or an event that triggers the possibilities.

Once you know and want to change, an excellent first step is to keep a journal to record and enable you to reflect on your experience. Reflecting and consistently recording raises your self-awareness resulting in improvements to your self-management and productive behaviors.

You should also actively seek unbiased and candid feedback. You could start with a trusted colleague or a close friend. Depending on your relationship, your life partner can also be a great best accountability partner.

Honest and candid feedback will help you to identify and see blind spots that may have been the root cause of your challenges in the past. You can also work with a coach to set goals for improving your Emotional Intelligence and receive ongoing support as you make progress.

In Closing

I knew going into this article that the most I could do was to introduce you to the importance of EI as an IT professional with the hopes of inspiring you to learn more. If I have not inspired you enough, I leave you with a quote from Emotional Intelligence by David Goleman:

“People with well-developed emotional skills are also more likely to be content and effective in their lives, mastering the habits of mind that foster their own productivity; people who cannot marshal some control over their emotional life fight inner battles that sabotage their ability for focused work and clear thought.”

Improving your Emotional Intelligence is a gratifying process. It takes patience and commitment to change. It is a personal investment that will transform your career and quality of life outside of work. I promise.

Until next time – I am here if you want to talk.


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry.