Recently, a CEO sent me a message saying about executives, “We don’t know what we don’t know, and we depend on the IT department for answers. They could tell me aliens fried their Wheaties on the backup drive for breakfast and how am I to challenge that?”
Well said! A lot of executives have expressed a similar concern, though in my 20 years none of them tickled my funny bone so much as that creative question!
There are communication barriers in many organizations, and the “Executives vs. IT” challenges are quite common. The language barrier between “IT terminology” and “plain English” is only the beginning of the problem. The results of so called “personality surveys” are often vastly different. Executives are often visionary and strategic in nature and IT professionals can be very tactical in their thinking.
It also surprises many executives to learn that the IT professional’s deepest concern is often “The boss will be disappointed in me and I will lose my job!”
In my experience, the executives are worried, “If I make the IT professional angry, they may delete all the data on the servers and then quit their job and leave the organization in shambles!”
With IT and the executives both being concerned about the power the other holds, and wanting to remain in the “good graces” of the other, it is easy to see how the communication boundaries can develop and have tall, strong walls.
Another symptom of the barrier is that IT projects often tend to go over budget and finish late.
If you have something you want to tell your IT professionals, tell them! If you want my help, ask. Open up communication and solve some of those lingering problems!