In previous chapters, I used business fables to illustrate the positive and negative impacts of an IT leader’s behavior on projects. Business fables and stories are useful for training and transmitting knowledge, boosting morale, and even resolving conflict (Neile, 2015). In this last chapter, I leave you with one last business fable about a CEO’s struggle to transform the leadership mindset within his company’s culture. Janice Glover-Jones, CIO of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in an August, 2015, speech that she was facing a similar challenge.
“This is why we’re focusing on employee development. Our budget was reduced greater than 30%, but I doubled our training budget. Th is training program is focusing on developing leadership and soft skills like collaboration, critical thinking, active listening, to name a few, and finally to improve our technical acumen. We must optimize the productivity of our current staff and leverage their talent, recruit and retrain personnel with relevant skills, or we will fail in our effort to support the mission.” The story that follows addresses many of these important points. I hope this story and the others I have told help you visualize and understand how IT geek leadership can result in successful projects when applied effectively.
“The customer seemed really upset with you at the closeout meeting, Dad,” Jonathan said to Saul. Saul and Jonathan both worked for JTS Security Systems, a small security systems firm. Saul had an unkempt, scruffy beard and wore a dingy white dress shirt and a blue tie that seemed too short for his large build. Jonathan was clean-shaven, with an athletic build, and wore a dark green polo shirt neatly tucked into his khakis.
Saul was the CIO and managed major deployment projects. Jonathan was a project manager in the Project Management Office. He did not work directly for Saul, but he produced deliverables to support JTS projects. They were having lunch together after the customer closeout meeting.
“I think they were robbed last week,” Saul said as the waiter brought his cheeseburger and fries. “We would have delivered the system three weeks ago, but Joab screwed up the testing schedule.” Joab was the testing team lead on Saul’s project.
“What did Joab say about that?” asked Jonathan, cutting into his salmon Caesar salad.
“I see you’re eating that rabbit food again,” Saul said. “You are definitely your mother’s child. Anyway, Joab said there was a customer conflict with the testing schedule. Maybe if the customer was more responsive, or if Joab were a better team lead, if he weren’t such a fool, we would have delivered on time. It was just unfortunate timing. Oh well. They’ll pay the invoice, and that’s all that matters to me.”
Saul planned to retire in three years. He recruited Jonathan from an IT company a year earlier, promising to promote him to Senior Project Manager. Jonathan had an undergraduate degree in computer science and was Project Management Institute (PMI®) Project Management Professional (PMP®) certified. Saul wanted to groom Jonathan to replace him after he retired.