Infinite IQ Loves to Partner with Executives to Get Results
10 Mar 2016

Lessons From the Field: Small Wins Add Up Quickly

Give me a list of things you’re going to accomplish this week, and get them done.

Too often I am surrounded by IT Operations groups that run extended project plans ranging from 6 months to multiple years. I have concluded this approach is both overwhelming and counterproductive.

Instead, I suggest a different approach. Teach your operations staff members to think in sets. Paint them a picture of what you’re envisioning, and work with them to decompose it into smaller components. You know, the same thing we do when coding in the large, break it down into bite sized chunks. Allow the members to collaborate as a team, and select tasks that make most sense to their skillset. By breaking projects down into smaller sets the team gets a unique opportunity to fully immerse themselves into problem, solving one topic at a time. This does does numerous things, but one of them is it makes them part of the solution – the strategy, not simply the operational tactics. And as a side-effect, you can quickly identify your top performers by their willingness to engage and commit themselves to solving the business’ challenges.

This quasi-agile approach to IT Operations management is effective only if properly adopted. Don’t focus on “sprint” planning and complicate matters as it will only frustrate your team. Instead, allow your team to dictate their action items, and hold them accountable to their selection. Here are some Do’s and Do Nots that I’ve learned along the way:

Dos Do Nots

• Set a weekly schedule for tasks to be accomplished.
• Meet two times a week. Once at the beginning of the week to select tasks and once at the end of the week to measure progress.
• Encourage collaboration amongst team members to share thoughts and inspire creativity.
• Ensure team members are selecting tasks that are achievable within the weekly time box.
• Reward members for their successes. Get creative with the reward system. You will be surprised how quickly things get done.

• Do not micromanage your team. If a task is highly important, delegate the supervision to a team lead or line manager and hold them accountable.
• Don’t allow your team members to overload themselves with work as burnout does and will set in. We’re all human.
• Do not let hard work go unnoticed. Reward your team members for their dedication.

As an IT Operations leader you are given the task to report to executive leadership on outages, downtime, and approaching budget caps. Wouldn’t it be nice to have positive news to lead into that conversation? I think so. This approach allows you, and your team to stand out amongst your peers because you’re consistently delivering positive results for projects, and ultimately your company. Give it a try.