I was provided a great example this week on the importance of an effective communication program. In my current role I am responsible for a large scale private cloud as well the overall service of all centrally managed servers across the enterprise. I have crafted and implemented what I believe is a comprehensive and well managed strategy for my service. Yet to my surprise a senior IT leader in my organization caught me in the hallway for a quick talk. The individual asked me if we could get together to craft and document a cloud strategy.
My initial reaction was surprise and confusion. I explained the work that has occurred to validate and how we gathered input on the current cloud strategy. Luckily, I also understood that this encounter was a result of something lacking somewhere. So I agreed to meet to learn more. I spent most of the remaining day thinking about why this encounter happened. My ultimate conclusion is that I had a flawed communication program. The portion of my communication program I use to craft and communicate strategy has three channels targeted towards business input, executive vision, and engaging consumers and those that support the service.
I meet routinely with executive leadership from each line of business to assess, document, and understand their priorities. We have clearly defined roles through this channel. The business is responsible to define “what” they want. I am responsible to explain “how” my service will meet their want. I propose “when” we can deliver their want which we must both agree upon. We meet routinely to share progress of delivery, changes to solutions, and identify if their wants and/or priorities change.
I meet with my internal executive leadership and my sponsors to review their intended vision and strategies. I also have them validate my vision and strategies. This channel ensures we are closely aligned with one another. It also serves as a check point to ensure my executives and sponsors are aware of information from the other two communication channels and the message I am presenting to the business.
This channel is another routine engagement with two separate groups. One is the middle management and consumers from each line of business. The other is the internal teams that support our service. This is my version of a business relationship management (BRM) channel. It’s not only important to understand the customer service being delivered but the customer experience and the painful processes the support and engineering teams may be dealing with. It’s just as important that this group understands the service strategy and roadmaps as it is for the business leadership and executives.
While I am ultimately responsible for my service and the creation of our cloud strategy I am also accountable to ensure said strategy meets the organization’s needs. Each channel in my communication program is designed to ensure I understand the needs from each level of the organization and provides an opportunity for me to review our strategy and roadmaps. But then why was this senior leader not aware of our cloud strategy? The answer was simple, I failed to include them in the executive vision channel. They had joined our organization after that channel was established. The result, a lack of awareness by the individual and a lack of understanding of their needs by me.