Several options exist for C-level leaders to learn more about the technology that drives their company. An executive workshop is one. Here, a business  development representative shares her experience working with C-level prospects at growth-oriented companies.

On the sales side of a B-to-B business, we constantly hear that the prospect is doing “good.” No need for help. Thanks for asking.

But what does “good” mean? Isn’t that a gray-area response? I’ve cold-called hundreds of C-level leaders whose I.T. is “good,” and a few have talked with me long enough to identify what that means to them. “Our I.T. is good” could be that employees’ computers run Windows programs without crashing too often. “We’re good” could mean the only time the executive needs to call I.T. is to recover a password or handle wi-fi issues. For other executives, “good” could be a well-organized web of I.T. employees who are closely involved with the company’s operational success, security, and compliance. And the list goes on.

But what does “good” mean as an industry standard?

Wouldn’t it be helpful to know how your definition of “good” matches with industry standards?

I’ve focused a lot of effort recently on an executive-level workshop that explores a company’s I.T. operational maturity from the CEO/COO perspective. Basically, the executive workshop helps companies figure out what “good” technology adoption looks like in their industry. (I don’t want you to leave just yet, but here’s a link to some more information: GAINING CONFIDENCE, CLARITY, AND CONTROL OF YOUR I.T. IN AN EXECUTIVE WORKSHOP.)

In the last 33 years, we have found that—not too surprisingly!—many of our customers didn’t get in the business to run an I.T. department. They thought of I.T. as a distraction or even a necessary evil. They weren’t sure where their technology investment was going or how to properly measure things beyond Susan being able to efficiently send emails to Bob. Executives struggle with the weight of I.T., especially when they don’t know how to measure it.

Here’s what an executive workshop looks like

Remember, this is a C-level workshop. Don’t expect lots of talk about servers and software patches. We’re looking at process documentation and resource planning.

The executive workshop occurs in a few steps. First, we survey the whole company. Staff. Executive team. I.T. department. We ask questions about things that might never have been communicated to you because it stayed at the hands of I.T.

We then survey your I.T. environment. How is your technology? What type of monetary investments do you make into I.T.? (Are you investing too little—or too much—in hardware, software, and staff salaries?) What holes have developed in your I.T. infrastructure and processes?

After all this comes the “workshop” part of the executive workshop. We sit down in a closed meeting with your executive team—the whole team, because, if you’re a well-oiled machine, every member of your leadership team should be aware of operational headaches. Especially when it involves the technology that drives your business. This interactive “discovery” session is the part of the workshop that tends to leave some CXOs feeling both drained and energized. CEOs who have attended an executive workshop tell us that for the first half, they felt a bit exposed by the open discussion about their internal processes and operations. Then, they started to see their team getting on the same page—one by one—so that by the end of the session, there’s some consensus and some growing excitement about what comes next.

Then, our Workshop presenters head back to our offices and work through all of the data we’ve collected. We analyze the surveys, the I.T. documentation, and your workshop responses, and create a confidential, customized report identifying your company’s “operational maturity” compared to industry standards and to your own goals. (Learn how operational maturity is tied to financial performance.)

The I.T. roadmap that guides the path YOU set

Companies whose executives engage in the workshop gain confidence in their systems and processes with a plan to gain clarity of their I.T. They avoid maintaining an inefficient status quo. They prevent poor investments—overspending or underspending—on their technology.

The next step in the executive workshop is to reconvene your executive team. Here, we present to you: the Roadmap to Success. This substantial report documents your existing adherence to I.T. standards and clearly outlines the processes needed to help you reach your company’s short- and long-term business goals.

After the workshop, your full executive team will share a vision for the role of technology to drive your company’s growth and stability. And, like most things in life, there are several ways to proceed from there. The Roadmap is based on your goals and your processes. Ultimately, you will have several options on how to implement them. With the workshop report, you will have a step-by-step plan revealing several ways to achieve a best-in-class I.T. department.

Following up on the workshop, you will hear from your expert presenters for regular “accountability calls.” They will provide additional advice and guidance based on the new path you set. And when you tell them, “We’re good”… well, then we’ll believe you.

Additional information about business leadership and the value of executive-level technology workshop is available in a free whitepaper: The C-level leader and technology.

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