Sometimes we have to take opportunities to reflect and plan wherever we can find them. As I shovel snow from my driveway, I ponder not only my organization's high-priority IT and business projects for 2006 but also the changes I need to make in how I manage my various professional and personal roles. With that in mind (and because this is the season for turning a new leaf), I offer you my list of resolutions for the new year. In 2006, I resolve to do the following:
Identify the best talent in my department. Then I will spend time with staff individually to create personal development plans and mentor each person to realize his or her plan. (I learned a long time ago that if I surround myself with really good people, my life gets a lot easier. And frankly, I could use the help.)
Meet formally at least once a quarter with each management team peer. These meetings will enable me to understand my counterparts' issues. This is how I plan to build relationships based on trust.
Leave work early to go to my son's soccer games. While at the game, I vow to turn off my cell phone and PDA.
Invite other IT leaders to lunch. During these meetings, I'll ask my counterparts how they would approach some of my technology, leadership and team management issues.
Prevent a single significant deficiency during our Sarbanes-Oxley audits. Research shows that more than 80% of deficiencies and weaknesses stem from IT controls and procedures.
Implement a simple project scoring and prioritization model based on our high-priority business objectives. During our annual business planning cycle, we generally identify seven business objectives. I will adjust my model so that IT projects are scored based on how well they support these business objectives. The new system will allow me to jettison my current multidimensional scoring model.
Pick a technology to learn about. Service-oriented architectures (SOAs) intrigue me, but I don't know enough to use them. I doubt I can actually implement anything with SOAs in 2006. But if learn more, I can put some hooks in place for later.
Once a week, take a long lunch. Perhaps I'll go for a walk or run to clear my mind.
Identify at least two ways to simplify my infrastructure. Currently, the candidates are (1) to turn off some seldom-used systems -- we can get by without them -- and (2) to move to a common version of my operating system. (It just might be time to purge the last users of Windows 98 -- those users who have difficulty adjusting to change.)
Give Microsoft until the end of 2006 to provide a workable solution to spyware in Internet Explorer. Otherwise, it's time to make the global switch to Mozilla Firefox.
Take my wife on a real vacation rather than drag her with me to an IT conference. She needs a break from IT nerds and vendors, and perhaps I do as well.
Pick an IT process to map, to benchmark against the marketplace, and to improve and streamline. While I believe that my change management process is effective, it's too bureaucratic and unresponsive.
The pressure is on. I have written these resolutions in a highly visible place, and the world (or at least you, fine readers) now knows what I have pledged to do. I will update you on my progress--and on whether my wife enjoys a vacation free from IT executives.
Niel Nickolaisen is CIO and vice president of strategic planning at Headwaters Inc. in South Jordan, Utah. This column originally appeared in the January 2006 issue of CIO Decisions magazine.