a camera operated by a squirrel
Corporate Culture

Focus…Stay with Me…Oh Look, a Squirrel!

Terri Jensen
Terri Jensen
Holmes Murphy Corporate

”SQUIRREL!!” I love the distracted dog, Dug, in the Pixar movie, “Up.” If you haven’t seen the movie, Dug can’t hold a thought. Instead, anything that passes in front of him grabs his attention, including a squirrel. I can relate.

Today’s world is filled with so many distracting bright and shiny new toys that it’s hard to stay focused on the important. And we technology folks are just like Dug. We like the new and shiny. We like to apply technology to any problem you bring to us. We can sometimes focus on the immediate rather than the important.

Tips to Align New Technology with Business Priorities

Technology leaders can fall into the trap of bringing in new technology rather than taking a step back to determine the underlying problem. To alleviate this tendency, it’s important for technology teams to stay in constant communication and alignment with the business. Business priorities should drive technology solutions.

It takes a dedicated partnership between the business and technology staff to make this happen. Here are some of my observations to help technology leaders create this important partnership.

Focus on Highest Business Priorities

Fully understand business priorities and start technology projects based on the highest business priorities. The requests that don’t make the cut will wait or lose relevance.

When the new and shiny requests are made, business leaders should make the call on their importance. This shouldn’t solely be the responsibility of the technology staff. After priorities have been identified, the business should align every project request to the business strategy. If the link doesn’t exist, the project shouldn’t be started.

Impacts the Entire Organization

Develop relationships at all levels of the organization. Ideas are generated throughout an organization. Solutions and innovations come from those who create the vision to those who are hands-on each day. Building coalitions at each level of the company will improve the overall change process.

Find the “Why”

Ask “why”. Use the 5-why practice of drilling down further into an issue by finding the root cause.

I’ve attended innumerable meetings where team members come with a new software product that will solve their problem. Unfortunately, they can’t identify what the real problem is. They just know the software will fix it.

Taking the time to have intentional conversations to discover the underlying problem often leads to a minor change in an existing product or a process change within the business which is quicker and much less costly than a software implementation. Find the real problem before proposing the solution. Don’t put the cart in front of the horse.

Stay Agile

Agile methodology of project rapid development was created to keep IT and business aligned during the life of a project. Agile addresses the need to quickly adjust to changing business needs and requests.

Project development no longer happens behind the magic curtain. Instead IT and the business need to collaborate, communicate, and coordinate to implement a product as quickly and effectively as possible.


Communicate, communicate, communicate.

I’ve said this in previous blog entries. Communication is the fundamental bridge to any successful endeavor. It’s also one of the most difficult aspects of aligning technology and the business. Effective communication increases the value of the technology team and the solutions they bring.

It’s easy to get distracted by the squirrel and fun-to-work-on new technologies. Business and technology teams need to work together to align and focus on the important and not necessarily the immediate. Learn more about our cyber risk solutions or reach out to talk with us!

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