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At too many companies, technology managers aren't on the same wavelength with the top business executives. Here are 10 ideas for improving that dynamic.

(in a Non-Technical Way)">

8. Network (in a Non-Technical Way)
Up to now, a lot of our best practice suggestions have had to do with structures and processes. These are all things that can help you stay in tune with the business, but perhaps none is as important as the softer tactic of having good relationships with your peers.

This is easiest, of course, for technology executives who have long tenures at their companies—a rare breed these days. For instance, Doug Allen's 28 years at Columbus, Ohio-based State Auto Financial Corp. give him credibility with his peers—and a deep understanding of his company's $1.1 billion business. When the CEO calls his monthly leadership meetings, Allen, State Auto's director of information technology, is among the 17 people in the room.

"With me there, I can hear what the conversation is," Allen says. "If I wasn't at that table, it would be much harder for me to react to these ideas."

Effective networking doesn't just mean hearing others' ideas. Consultant Merlyn recalls that a CIO of a Fortune 100 company once told him, in explaining his decision to add two seemingly unrelated PowerPoint slides to a presentation, that he never got in front of his company's management committee without also trying to educate them about something he was going to be bringing to their attention six or eight months down the road.

"That's a good practice," Merlyn says.

Next Best Practice: Create Multi-Disciplinary Teams for High-Priority Projects

This article was originally published on 2007-08-03
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