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How Internal Pressures Can Implode an IT Organization

Roadmap with cities and distances

Know where you are today. Be clear on where you’re going.

Last week, I talked about some of the many organizational pressures that can implode an IT team.  In fact, some of these may apply to other parts of the organization as well.  This week, I’ll take a look at an approach that can shed light onto solving these issues.

It’s All About Perspective

The ability to look inward in a truthful, non-self-serving manner is a phenomenal attribute to possess.  The same holds true when looking at an organization that you’ve helped create.  Allowing myself to pull out from working within the team to working on the team has afforded me valuable insights.  This ability to change perspectives is the best way to look around and objectively survey the landscape.

Once I change my perspective, the focus becomes applying a very simple approach that has been invaluable to me over the years.  Three steps: Where do we want to be, where are we now, and how do we get there?  In that order.

Where Do We Want To Be?

What may have worked well a few years ago may not be the optimal solution for today.  This is simply because our surroundings continually change.  So, resetting the baseline and re-establishing alignment can be a continual process.  Understanding how the organization will be measured and knowing what problems you’re trying to solve today will be the starting point to crafting your solution.  Not knowing where you want to be is like driving a car with a blindfold.  You’re bound to hit something and you won’t get anywhere.

Getting the right group involved is a great way to start the alignment process.  During that process, it may become clear that others have different agendas, goals and ideas on how something should be implemented.  Facilitating this group alignment on where the organization needs to be and establishing a common vision will allow everyone to head in the same direction.

This is also the time to make sure your goals will solve the problems as they are perceived today.  If silos exist or technology is scattered as I described last week, then perhaps one of the goals is to look at how to create horizontal technologies that can be shared amongst the silos.  The goal could be as simple as creating a shared platform which has an added benefit of getting the teams communicating more.

Where Are We Now?

This is where taking a step back is the most helpful.  Being immersed in something for an extended period of time gives us a single perspective of what we know to be true.  Because many teams have a lot of knowledge about what already exists (after all, they live it every day) it can be tempting to breeze through this phase.  Do not breeze.  Do.  Optimally, document the enterprise architecture of the technologies, processes and roles that exist.  You will most certainly uncover some interesting aspects of your surroundings that were previously based on assumptions.  If you have found this to be true in your experiences, please share in this blog discussion!

How Do We Get There?

This is the part where a roadmap is created.  This is typically the most difficult phase.  It has been equated to creating a solution to changing the tires on a moving race car.  It can be difficult, but do-able.

Not only is this the most challenging phase, but it’s also my favorite.  This is also the same phase where you should consider inviting the solutioning team from the first phase. They are invested in the destination, so it only makes sense that they should have some passion and energy around getting everyone else there.  Don’t go it alone.  Following this approach, you will begin seeing a team start to craft a common vision and a plan that is designed to accomplish what may have previously been thought as impossible.

The Bottom Line

Continually measuring and re-aligning has helped me immensely in preventing my teams from imploding.  This is not a tool that gets used once and discarded.  It’s designed to be used continually.  The frequency will be determined by the velocity of change in your organization.


  • How have you had to cope with organizational pressures and how did you get started toward resolution?
  • How did you engage the right people for the solutioning phases?
  • What obstacles did you overcome?
  • What other pressures have you seen implode or hurt an organization?

Photo Credit: Goldemberg Fonseca

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Category: Team Dynamics, Team Performance