Attention IT Leaders – Which Column Is Your Team In?

Are your team members innovating in IT or are they maintaining status quo?

Humour me for a moment. Take out a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side, list the names of your team members whose primary responsibilities are performing maintenance activities for existing applications and systems that you already own. The easiest way to identify them is to look at their primary skill sets – if those skill sets are associated to a vendor (MS-Exchange Server, Cisco, IBM, etc) then they’re most likely on the left side.

On the right side, list the names of your team members who are actively focused on using technology for innovative activities that will have a new positive impact to your organization. They’re most easily identified as the ones that don’t seem care about the technology plumbing as much as they care about success of the project and the resulting impact on your organization.

If you are in line with the industry averages, you will have 70% of your team on the left side, and 30% on the right. You’ll probably have geniuses in both columns, and you know exactly who they are. Now add up the salaries for the “maintaining status quo” column versus the salaries for the “innovation” column. Yes, this might sting. I hate to bring this up, but if a new competitor entered your field tomorrow, and used Cloud Computing or a Virtual Data Center instead of a traditional data center, then 70% of your competitor’s team (including all their geniuses) could potentially be in their innovation column. Would you not agree that they might have a cost advantage or speed-to-market capability that could provide them the ability to disrupt your business?

Is it time to move people from the left column to the right column?

October 18, 2012 by Jon Holtby

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