Harness the power of the IT hero for the good of your organization
The previous articles in this series looked at the risks that IT heroes pose to the business, and how to identify them. Now we need to learn how to do something about the problem and harness the power of your heroes for the good of the entire organization.
As previously mentioned, the key to minimizing the effect of IT heroes on your business is to have a strong and well-governed Knowledge Management process, but getting to that point is not as easy as it may sound.
One of the first things to consider is that you simply cannot do this by stealth. A knowledge management initiative is something that needs to have buy-in from all affected parties, including management and every area that provides IT support. If you try to fly under the radar with this, it WILL fail, you need a budget and you need people to be invested in the new process and to understand the benefits that it will ultimately bring to the organization.
You also need to see that this is not about a tool. Sure, a good standalone knowledge management tool will help you, as will an ITSM toolset with a well-designed knowledge management facility. But unless you have a process that works for your business to back up the tool, then your knowledge management will not bring the expected benefits.
Your IT heroes are used to keeping their knowledge to themselves, one of the excuses they have for doing this will be the effort that is required to document it so that others can access it. You need to be able to provide incentives that will encourage them to take the time to do what is needed so that the business can gain the full benefit of this knowledge.
One way to get them to buy into the new way of doing things is to include them in the design of the process. That way they will feel some sense of ownership and will still feel some sense of control over the knowledge they will be sharing.
This is a major cultural change for any organization, and it needs to be carefully managed if it is going to make a difference and bring the business value that it should. One way to encourage compliance to the new process is to develop incentives that will reward people for adopting this new way of working. Prizes for the best knowledge base articles are one way of doing this. Another would be to give time away from support to work on innovative initiatives that give a chance for your heroes to make a real contribution to the future of the organization.
Your IT heroes like to feel that they are perhaps a little superior to the ‘run of the mill’ IT support specialist. You can harness this attitude by having them run training sessions for your team where they share their knowledge on some of the IT issues they have specialized in fixing in the past.
One thing that you need to keep in mind is that you must tread carefully and keep your heroes happy. You simply cannot afford for them to leave the organization before they have documented their knowledge for others to use. The best way of doing this is to keep them involved so that they feel empowered rather than threatened by the new process.