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8 Posts authored by: charlesaraujo

Can you shed your IT clothes?

That was the big challenge that Brian Vellmure gave us in Episode 6 of the Transform IT show. We talked about the changing landscape for both business and IT professionals and, in my opinion anyway, a lot of what he had to say was pretty controversial.


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First, he related the current business climate to surfing in the ocean. No matter how well you think you know a certain span of beach, even if you go there every single day, every single day it's going to be different. One day there may be massive waves. The next it may be almost flat. The tide, the current - everything changes every single day. And that,at least according to Brian, is the world in which we now live.

The ramifications for us as IT professionals are pretty significant. To begin with, we need to get comfortable that we will be in a constant state of "selling". We will need to be constantly communicating the value that technology can provide and how it can be leveraged. But more than anything, he challenged us to break free from our conceptualization of our own role. He said that in the very near future, titles were going to be nearly meaningless. And that to be relevant, we were going to have to spend a lot more of our time and energy connecting with everyone that is consuming the technology that we're providing.

But he also had some words of hope. He said that as he spends his days with CEOs, CMOs and other business executives he has learned a few things. First, they are frustrated and are increasingly taking more and more control of their technology strategies. But he is also seeing that as they do, they begin to realize how complex it is and that they really don't want to have to deal with it, if they can help it.

Which means that there is a great opportunity for those IT leaders who can step up and step in to fill that gap.

That's great news for those IT leaders who are able to understand this and willing to do what it takes to "shed their IT clothes" and take a different approach.

It's not going to be easy. There's no getting around that. It will take courage, a dedication to really learning about your business and will require that you stick with it even when all the fires are burning around you. But while the stakes are high, the rewards are amazing for those who are willing to do what it takes.

I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Brian. I hope that you heed his advice. You can access the replay of the show here: Replay Episode 6 with Guest Brian Vellmure.

What does it mean to be a futurist?


In episode 5 of the Transform IT show I sat down with James Jorasch and Rita J. King, powerhouse couple, futurists and founders of Science House. We talked about their unique and distinct journeys that led them both to this point at which, in their view, technology and humanity are intersecting.

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We talked about the perspectives that cause then to be viewed as "futurists" and what we can each do to develop that viewpoint. Most importantly, we talked about how important it is to recognize that we are in control. That we can shape everything: our culture, our future and our destiny.


They challenged us to move ourselves away from those things that are known and comfortable and to be willing to immerse ourselves in the unknown. They challenged us to employ diligent practice to develop our skills, but to not stop there - to then expand our horizons into seemingly disconnected areas. And then to simply let things simmer and percolate.


It was a fascinating look into a different way of seeing the world around us.


Perhaps the greatest challenge came from Rita as she encouraged each of us to "have an adventure". When was the last time in our busy, corporate lives that we thought of ourselves as on an adventure?


Probably never.


Yet her challenge was a way of reminding us that the only way to prepare for an uncertain and rapidly evolving future is to put ourselves in a state of adventure. We need to be open to new ideas and new perspectives. We need to be willing to challenge the status quo and be open to connections that might not seem to make any sense on the surface.


It can be a tall order for most IT professionals. We're more comfortable with things that we can see and touch. But I believe that we need to embrace this kind of perspective if we are going to remain relevant as our world transforms around us.


And I believe that's what it means to be a futurist.


A futurist is not someone that knows what the future holds. But rather, a futurist is simply someone who is in a constant state of exploration about the future and who is open to wherever that future may lead.


So the question for you is how will you rise to this challenge? How will you begin your adventure and begin thinking a bit more like a futurist tomorrow?


Share your "morning action" with us in the comments section below. And you can also join in the conversation any time on Twitter using the hashtags #ITChat and #TransformIT.


And, if you missed episode 5 of the Transform IT show, you can watch it here. Also, make sure to tune in on December 2 when I’ll be talking to Brian Vellmure on becoming an IT outsider.


If you haven't had a chance to read my book, “The Quantum Age of IT”, you can download the first chapter for free here.

What did you think about Frank Wander comparing all of us to pieces of technology infrastructure? On the surface, it can seem dehumanizing. Like we’re just parts of a machine.


But the reality is much more powerful. Frank does see people as the human infrastructure that powers every organization. He believes, in fact, that people are every organization’s most important asset - and that we don’t pay nearly enough attention to those assets.


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He challenged us with the question that if a piece of our technical infrastructure was failing and was unable to do the job, we’d pay attention and we’d take immediate action. And yet when part of our human infrastructure is in the state, we either don’t notice or don’t care. And that’s the problem.


In order to maintain our human infrastructure, we have to treat people as humans - NOT cogs in a machine. We must understand their emotional makeup and how that drives them. Treating our teams as “human infrastructure” is actually the least dehumanizing thing we can do.


Frank’s challenge to us was to prepare for the massive changes that are coming and build high performing, highly innovative environments. To do that you need to be prepared to be in a state of perpetual learning and become a student of both culture and the emotions that drive us as humans.


That might not sound like doing much, but educating yourself in these crucial areas is an important first step.


So what will that first step be for you? How will you begin your lifelong journey in cultural and emotional learning? Share that first step with us in the comments below of via Twitter using hashtag #ITChat.


If you missed Episode 4, you can watch it on demand here.


Also, make sure that you tune in on November 11th when I’ll be talking to James Jorasch & Rita J. King, futurists and founders of ScienceHouse. We’ll be discussing their interesting view of the future and how it will impact all of us. You don’t want to miss it. You can register for a calendar reminder here.


And don’t forget that you can join the Transform IT conversation anytime using the Twitter hashtags #TransformIT and #ITChat.

How did you like what Ray Noonan, CEO of Cogent, had to say about collaboration and the need to focus on business value?


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It probably should have. If I can summarize what Ray shared with us, it would be that we need to:


Break down the walls that separate us and keep us apart and to always put the business value above the needs of IT.

I’m quite sure that some of what he said sent shivers down the spines of IT people everywhere. But Ray wasn’t focused on “IT” - only on what IT can do to deliver value to the organization.


He believes that IT is too important to be segregated in a separate function and so he integrated it into the business units directly. He believes that we should all be technologists and so that we need to trust our people with technology decisions. He believes that the sense of “ownership” - to the degree that it inhibits sharing and collaboration - must be eliminated so that our teams can work together rapidly and fluidly. And he believes that the only thing that matters is the value that is generated for the business - so if an IT process or policy is somehow disrupting the delivery of value, then it should be changed.


If you keep your “IT hat” on, these ideas can seem scary and downright heretical. But if you think like a CEO, they make a lot more sense.


And that was Ray’s big challenge to all of us.


To break down our “ownership walls”.

To focus, instead, on how we create value for the organization.

To understand and embrace that value.

And then to deliver and protect it.


The question for you is how you’re going to start doing that. How will you begin?


Share with us the first step that you’re going to take to begin breaking down your own “ownership walls” and to focus on value.  I believe that your ability to understand how value is created for your business and how you, personally, contribute to that value, is perhaps one of the most critical first steps in your own personal transformation to becoming a true digital leader.


So decide what you will do to begin this process and start now. There’s no time to wait!


If you missed Episode 2, you can watch it on-demand here:


Also, make sure you tune in on October 14th when I’ll be talking to Patty Hatter, Sr. VP Operations & CIO at McAfee about “Life at the Intersection of IT and Business." You can register for a calendar reminder here.

You can join the Transform IT conversation anytime using the Twitter hashtags #TransformIT and #ITChat.

When I was a young boy, my parents told me that they would be taking me and 7 of my friends to Disneyland to celebrate my birthday. This was a huge deal to me. They were going all out - and I was going to be able to bring my entire group of close friends. I was simply beside myself with anticipation. And when the day finally arrived, I almost couldn’t believe that it was real - that it was actually happening.


I’m having a similar moment right now.


Next Tuesday, September 16th, the first episode of my new web show will air. And I am completely beside myself with anticipation. But this time, instead of bringing along just 7 friends, I get to bring along...everyone! But the most important person that I hope to bring along is YOU.



The Transform IT show, presented by the Intel IT Center is going to be a show dedicated to helping you navigate what the “future of IT” holds for you. So I wanted to take a moment to tell you a little bit more about the show and why I’m so excited about it.


Since my book, The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change, came out I have been given an amazing opportunity: to meet and talk with some of the most thoughtful, progressive and inspiring executives, leaders and futurists you can imagine. Whether it was sharing a stage at an event or having them reach out to me because the book spoke to them in some way, I have had the privilege of meeting them and hearing their own stories of both our past and the future. And invariably, as I did, the same thought came to me over and over again.


“Everyone needs to hear this story.”


Their stories were inspiring. They w ere challenging. They were thought provoking. They told stories of overcoming challenges, of taking huge risks and of trying completely new things. And I almost felt guilty that I got to hear them and others didn’t.


The Transform IT show gives me an opportunity to change that.Every other week, I will be interviewing these smart, progressive and game-changing executives and leaders so that their stories can be shared. Most importantly, I will be asking them to speak directly to you. I will ask them to give you the advice and guidance that they would if they were mentoring you directly. My hope is that you will be able to take important lessons from their personal journeys and then be able to apply that in practical meaningful ways - right now.


To help make it practical and actionable, we’ll also be holding a live Twitter chat during each episode “airing” so that you can engage in a conversation about how you can apply the lessons from these stories. You can join the conversation using the Twitter hashtags #TransformIT and #ITChat.


I believe that you will find their stories compelling and inspiring. But I also believe that you will see that they are really people just like you and me. And that you will be able to take lessons from their stories to make your own journey more successful, more enjoyable and more impactful.


In the end, that’s the most important thing that I hope comes out of the Transform IT show. That in some small way, it will help you become a better, more impactful leader so that you can help lead us all into the future.


Register today and tune into the premier episode on Tuesday, September 16th at noon EDT / 9:00am PDT and let’s get to work!

During the latest episode of the Transform IT show, Patty Hatter, Sr. VP of Operations and CIO at McAfee, challenged us to take what I called, “the curvy path.” To be unafraid of having a career path that doesn’t look like a straight line. But the curvy path can be scary, right? The trick is in how you approach it.


Wasn't it fun to hang out with Patty? What I love about her is that she is a no-nonsense, get-it-done executive who makes big things happen. But she also refuses to accept the status quo, is easy to talk to and she’s just a lot of fun to be with. What a powerful combination.

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And as I was talking to her, I couldn’t help but think that her own “curvy path” is a lot of the reason why.

As she explained during the interview, she is able to relate to all of her counterparts because she has been in their shoes, at least in part, at different times in her career. I think that kind of depth and breadth of experience gives you an inner confidence that allows you to drop your guard a bit. I think that inner confidence - and the easy manner it engenders - came through loud and clear when I was talking with Patty.


So her challenge to each of us was to be unafraid of our own curvy path. To be willing to step off the safe, straight and narrow career path that most of us have been on, and to be willing to try something completely new and different.


It’s scary. It’s risky. But it’s what will give you the depth of experience that you need to have that kind of inner confidence in almost any situation.


So how will you step off the safety of the straight path and seek out the less direct, but much more interesting path that will lead you forward? It may be an uncertain future, but by embracing the uncertainty and becoming an intellectual and experiential explorer, you can prepare yourself for whatever that future may hold.


So what will it be? What will be your first step off the straight, safe path onto your own “curvy path”?


Share that first step with us in the comments below or via Twitter using #TransformIT and #ITChat. Taking that step is a critical decision that will put you on the path to getting some amazing things done at the intersection of IT and business!


If you missed Episode 3, you can watch it on demand here.


Also, make sure that you tune in on October 28th when I’ll be talking to Frank Wander, former CIO at Guardian Life and Author of the book, Transforming IT Culture. We’ll be discussing the similarities between wine and culture from his own personal wine cellar! You’re not going to want to miss it. You can register for a calendar reminder here.


Join the Transform IT conversation anytime using the Twitter hashtags #TransformIT and #ITChat. Don’t forget that you can order my book, “The Quantum Age of IT” for 50% off thanks to the Intel IT Center:

Did you catch the premier episode of Transform IT, with Charles Lee?

I hope so because I think that he laid out a great challenge for you, if you choose to accept it.


As I closed the show, I tried to summarize what Charles challenged us to do:

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To be bold, but to maintain balance.

To be ambitious, but to not lose our soul in the process.

And most of all, to take action right now. To not over analyze, to not wait, but to step forward and act.


I think that it is profound in its simplicity. But being simple does not make this easy.


What I think that he was really talking about is finding balance. That you need to be willing to "jump into the deep end of the pool" - to step out and take the risks that make sense - but that you also shouldn't just jump into any and every pool.


More than anything else, Charles challenged us to act now and to not wait. I asked you to go ahead and identify the action that you would take tomorrow to respond to Charles' challenge. Did you do it? Did you tweet it as part of the Twitter Chat? Did you post it in the show comments?


If not, I promise you that taking that first action, that first step, is the most important. In fact, you might consider it your first act of boldness. So don't be afraid. Instead, be bold. Tell the world what pool you will be diving into - the action that you're going to take right now to take your first steps on your own transformational journey.


There is no right or wrong answer. The only way that you can fail at this is by not doing it. So be bold. Take action. And then follow it through. Tell us what it is and encourage others to do the same. You'll be glad you did.


Don’t forget to join us on September 30 when I talk with Ray Noonan, CEO of Cogent Ltd. In the process of resurrecting his company he has taken collaboration to all new levels. You might call it “Collaboration as a Business Model” and I think that you’ll find that his story has some important lessons for you as an IT leader. Register today, you won’t want to miss it.


Note: If you missed the first episode at “air time", not to worry. You can watch it on-demand here.


You can join the Transform IT conversation anytime using the Twitter hashtags #TransformIT and #ITChat.

About six years ago, I got my first inkling that something had changed. I just wasn’t quite able to put my finger on it.


I was working on a process improvement project for a very large financial firm — something that I had done several times before. But this time something just seemed different. There was a different sense of urgency. You could just tell that the stakes had gotten much bigger — I just didn’t understand why or what it would mean.


While I didn’t know exactly what was happening, I knew that something was happening. So like some crazy street preacher telling you to “Repent for the end is near”, I began calling on IT executives to transform their IT organizations from every bully pulpit I could find. Eventually, people began to be worn down by my unrelenting chorus and so they started asking me, “Ok, Charlie — we get it. We need to ‘transform' — but into what? What’s coming?”


Frankly, the question kind of stumped me. I still hadn’t really figured things out. But I knew they were right. If I was going to keep on “preaching”, I should know why. I began contemplating what I saw happening around me and coined the phrase “The Quantum Age of IT” to represent the new era that I believed we were entering and what it means to both IT organizations and IT professionals.


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As I began speaking at events and conferences everywhere, I realized that people expected me to tell them what the future would bring. At first, I laughed. Then I began getting scared. People were really expecting me to tell them what was going to happen. The truth is that I don’t really know. As humans, we’re really bad at predicting the future with any certainty. But we can observe what is happening around us and try to make sense of it all.


That’s really what my book is about. I believe that as we observe what is happening, here is the one thing that we can say for certain: Our future will not look anything like our present looks today. Which is why I opened my book with the line, “IT as we know it is dead.”


But while an uncertain future can be scary, it can also be exciting. I actually believe that we are in a time of great hope and opportunity for those IT organizations and IT leaders who see this future unfolding and step forward to lead us into it. Our future may be uncertain, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot prepare ourselves to thrive in uncertain times.


That’s what the Transform IT show is all about.




The good news is that while IT may be dead, our future may be uncertain and everything we know may have changed — it doesn’t mean that we’re completely on our own. The truth is that this future has been unfolding for quite a while and there are a number of smart and progressive leaders all over the world who saw this happening and have been doing something about it. They have been boldly living in this future and have been stepping out to break all the rules and do things differently.


Transform IT will be a show about their stories. We will hear about their triumphant successes. And we will learn from their failures and struggles. Most importantly, we will be inspired by their vision of the future and the lessons that they will offer us as we strive to step forward and lead ourselves and those around us into this exciting, but uncertain future.


I’m so excited that my organization, The IT Transformation Institute, is partnering with the Intel IT Center to produce this show. I believe that through it, we will share stories that will have the power to literally help change our industry for the better. More importantly, I believe that these stories will have the power to change YOU. Your future lies in front of you. It is a time of great hope and great opportunity. But you must understand what is happening and be prepared to act upon that knowledge. Through this show, we hope to do our part to help. But the rest will be up to you. Are you ready?


Make sure to register today for the first Transform IT Web Show on Tuesday, September 16th at 9:05am PST. The show will feature guest, Charles Lee, Former CIO, of Taco Bell. The first 30 who register will receive a free copy of, "The Quantum Age of IT". There will also be a live Twitter chat throughout the show starting at 9:00am PST. Make sure to use #ITChat and #TransformIT to be part of the conversation.


Note: In my next blog post, I’ll tell you a little bit more about the show itself and how you can best prepare to take advantage of what you will learn. Stay tuned!