Managing sponsors & politics

Articles and posts about navigating the political situations associated with managing technology projects and teams

Techies and users are in a vicious circle of mistrust

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Computerworld Columns, Managing sponsors & politics | 0 comments

We in IT like to complain that we don’t get the respect, engagement and trust that we deserve. There’s no shortage of outrage in IT departments about the low regard we are accorded by our business partners. They hire us and pay us good salaries, presumably because they consider us the experts on technology and its use in business. But they frequently exclude us from strategic conversations, make decisions without consulting us and ignore our advice. In response, we feel disrespected and untrusted. When I ask nontechnical business people how they feel about us, they use words like...

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How can you wield influence if you don’t know what it is?

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Computerworld Columns, Managing sponsors & politics | 0 comments

We in IT want to be more influential in our organizations. We think our influence is insufficient in an era when technology is ubiquitous and essential to every organization. But despite our desire to wield more influence, we are not clear on what influence is. Given that confusion, we pursue influence in all the wrong ways. I made this realization recently, when a group of 70 CIOs and IT directors gathered for a half-day seminar I gave on the topic of “Overcoming the IT Influence Deficit.” I decided to test our common understanding of the subject matter. Even in this group of...

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When you’ve had it with a stakeholder

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Computerworld Columns, Managing sponsors & politics | 0 comments

Every so often I find myself at my wit’s end with a project stakeholder and just want to give up and stop trying to help him. The frustration of these situations takes a toll. Even now, years later, I get upset thinking about one particular client. Chances are, if you’ve been in IT for any length of time, you know what I’m talking about. But what should you do when you reach that point? Pitching a fit is rarely productive. Suppressing your outrage won’t make things better either. What about walking away? We usually don’t think of this as a realistic option....

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Rogue IT, and power as an obstacle to influence

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Computerworld Columns, Managing sponsors & politics | 0 comments

After I wrote last month’s column on why CIOs don’t have more influence with “the business,” I participated in a fascinating conversation with a group of big-company IT operations directors that perfectly illustrated how we in IT undermine our own influence. The discussion turned to rogue IT, with a general consensus that it was pervasive. One estimate, which was not greatly scoffed at, was that rogue IT might constitute 15% of the average large company’s IT spending. But while nearly all of the IT leaders agreed that rogue IT was widespread, they showed...

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Talking to the business: our problems, their visions

Posted by on Nov 7, 2011 in Managing sponsors & politics | 0 comments

The first meeting for a project is a tense affair. There can be a lot of new things coming at you all at once. New co-workers. New technology. New processes. And, perhaps most problematic, new business partners. These meetings tend to follow predictable patterns. You, the technical person, want to stick to a process, gathering basic requirements that can be put into a document. So you ask some questions about what’s going on with the business and what problems need to be solved. The business person talks rather vaguely about what she wants to accomplish. She seems excited about...

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Q&A: What do I do when I’ve lost all respect for my manager?

Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Managing sponsors & politics | 0 comments

Question: I have a situation where I have lost all professional respect for my manager. She is a very nice person but takes advice from her best friend, who is another manager here. We can’t implement any policy or process without her running to her friend to check it out. It appears that her friend is taking advantage of this by doing whatever he wants. Any advice? Answer: It sounds like you have at least three problems here: your manager’s behavior, your manager’s friend taking advantage of her and your loss of respect for her. Let’s dispense with the easy one...

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Q&A: How do I manage three different sponsors?

Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Managing sponsors & politics | 0 comments

Question: How do you manage your sponsors when you have three different sponsors who have varied, often competing views of where a project should go? Answer: If you’ve got three sponsors, you don’t have a sponsor. It’s like saying you’ve got three first priorities. Just as there can be only one first priority, there can be only one sponsor. In your case, what you probably have, in fact, is a disorganized steering committee that never meets and doesn’t have anyone in charge. As you’ve already figured out, that’s not a recipe for success. It’s the...

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