Monitoring For Managers: Business Alignment – The Bridge to UnITy — SolarWinds TechPod 060

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While IT handles layered problems and often speaks in acronyms among other technical terms, we’re also challenged to collaborate with other departments who seemingly speak in a different language. How can we bridge the gap and work towards the same organizational goals, unifying our strategies and operations? Join us as we sit down with Dr. Humberto Amador, to discuss his IT journey and experiences, particularly his focus and affinity for uniting teams through strategic IT-business alignment.  Related Links:
Dr. Humberto Amador

Guest | Senior Director of IT, SolarWinds

Dr. Amador spent ten years as a systems engineer focused on virtualization and storage systems. He holds a bachelor’s in forensic science with a focus… Read More
Liz Beavers

Host | Head Geek

Like many IT professionals, Liz’s entry into the tech industry was unconventional. With plans to pursue a career in public relations, Liz’s career quickly took… Read More

Episode Transcript

Announcer: This episode of Tech Pod is brought to you by SolarWinds THWACKcamp, our free annual digital IT learning event. Join us March 2nd and 3rd for the 10th annual SolarWinds virtual IT learning event. Register free

Liz: Hey everyone, and thanks for tuning in to another episode of SolarWinds Tech Pod. I’m your host and SolarWinds Head Geek, Liz Beavers. We’ve had a number of conversations centered around breaking the technical ground, particularly from a monitoring perspective, ranging from leveling up your career or even managing up. In these discussions, we found a space and an opportunity to enhance visibility, heighten understanding, and improve the relationships between managers, their engineers, and the business at large. While the technology we employ and those within our IT organizations that we partner with are deeply technical, how do we bridge what our technology suite is capable of, what it’s contributing to the business, and marry that context to other teams in business terms? Enter business alignment. Joining me to explore this topic further is Dr. Humberto Amador, a fellow Solarian, and senior IT director. Welcome, Humberto.

Humberto: Hi Liz. Thanks for having me today. I’m super excited to be here today and talk to everybody about business alignment through a technology perspective.

Liz: Absolutely. I think it’s incredibly valuable and something that’s definitely worth bubbling up. We certainly know that we want to be aligned within the business, but I think that there are so many opportunities for teams to further capitalize and really employ a more strategic vision around business alignment.

Humberto: Absolutely. I think that that’s been one of the key passions in my career. It’s really sitting in and understanding that there’s two sides to this. There’s a technology side and there’s also a business side. I’ve been able to identify a niche in the world as there’s a lot of good technologists out there, engineers and such, that can take code, produce code, create great products, make it secure, manage an infrastructure, and build the right components to serve the company. But then, there’s also really great business folks that know how to take it to market, how to speak to the customers, how to communicate messaging to the right channels, and how to manage the business at a landscape perspective. Being able to bring those two together has been a passion of my career, and being able to present to the organization the value of IT through a business sense.

Humberto: We often look at technology as it’s boring. It’s just technology. It’s just a bunch of servers in the cloud. My data is on a file share somewhere. I can access it when I need to. But when you start thinking about technology from the perspective of, what am I doing? Why am I doing it? And what do I get out of it? I think you level up the sense a little bit more out of technology and bring a little bit more value into the day-to-day tech.

Liz: I couldn’t agree with you more. And I think that value element, underpinning that, is the human element. So, there’s so many opportunities, again, to really think about this strategy and how you can involve others and the overarching vision of the organization more soundly. Now, before we totally geek out on all things business alignment, you’ve had quite the career. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself, Humberto, and your current role?

Humberto: Sure. So, my career started roughly about 15, 16 years ago. When I got out of the Marine Corps, I was looking into technology as this aspect of get my hands into the technology, learn how to build and manage infrastructure, and learn how to secure it. I decided to join, after the military, go to college and join programs that were around the security vector. My bachelor’s degree was in cybercriminal investigation and counter-terrorism. And I aspired at some point, given my military background, that I would eventually work in the security space for the U.S. Government to some degree.

Humberto: But then, my career started taking more of a turn. I started becoming more of an architect, designing systems, implementing networks, designing security practices around them, talking a lot more to customers, understanding what their value streams were. How did they look at technology? I started taking on multiple hospitals throughout early days of my career and working with HIPAA certifications and the subtleties around the security practices for healthcare technology and such. That led me to believe that technology was greater than just IPs, binary, and networks. Technology was also sprinkled with a little bit of overlay of business, can really drive effective communication and value to an organization if we learn how to consume technology in the right fashion.

Humberto: So, that led me towards getting my masters in project management in IT, really focusing in on how to take IT projects and programs and really drive and squeeze the value out of them so that organizations don’t look at IT as an expense, but more so a value proponent for the organization going forward into their future. And working as a project manager in IT for a couple of years really helped me understand the landscape of IT, not just from a technical perspective but also from a business perspective, understanding how business leaders engage technical leaders. What are the common questions that they deal with? What are their common struggles? What are some of their issues with actual fulfillment and understanding the quality of getting the result that they’re expecting?

Humberto: That really led me to understand that 90% of projects, if not more, fail. They fail, really, because of three reasons, budget, time, and resources. And more so, understanding the value that a project brings, helps me manage the failure aspects of that project. Being able to align the value of that project or that program from a technology perspective into a business sense, helps not only articulate to the leader what do they get to get out of doing this for program for the cost that they’re doing it over the period of time, but also help them understand that we may need to incrementalize this a little bit in order to really draw the value out of this project, because time changes. Today, a lot of times, we try to make decisions or assumptions on data that we have in front of us today, not knowing how that data may change a quarter from now or even to two quarters from now as we progress.

Humberto: That, then, led me to understand that there is a bigger need in knowing how to articulate technology programs at an executive level, knowing how to speak resource management, how to talk risk management and change management at an executive level, not just a practical level working within the technology realm. That led me towards pursuing my doctorate in IT as the ultimate goal in my career to step out of the practitioner’s point of view and get into more of an academic point of view to see, where is the real global project or problems related to project and program management? And how do we move the rhetoric on the conversation a little bit further to better help quantify and qualify the value of taking more of a tactical, sorry, a more strategic approach on program management from an IT sense.

Liz: Absolutely. And I love, in that journey, the importance of communication to drive collaboration, really enhance and achieve the vision and goals that teams set. I think so much of what we do while we are hands-on with technology; all roads lead to communication. So, I love that that has been such a passion and driver in terms of how you can better orchestrate and enhance, and again convey the strategy that’s taking place from what we’re employing with technology as well.

Humberto: That’s why I love my role here at SolarWinds today. Talking a little bit about the role that I play today at SolarWinds, it’s really like a master communicator, master resource manager. My job is really to intake may be an area of concern, a problem, a technical challenge, or an opportunity, like I like to call it, and understand it from not just a business sense. How much is it going to cost? How long is it going to take? How many decisions do I need to make in order to make this into fruition? And not just from a technology set, what are the requirements? How does this need to break down? How many sprints do I need to work in order to get this work done? But really helping to boil up and saying, “Okay, here’s your original request. Here’s how it translate. Here’s the timeframe that we can look at it. And, oh, by the way, here’s the remaining value that’s out there still available for you to consume if you really want to.”

Humberto: And then, at that point, it really becomes a business decision. “Hey, if I invest a little bit more into this, I may get a bigger, more strategic benefit to my organization over a longer period of time in an incremental schedule. Or do I just want to go and accomplish this one thing and then build it from there?” The options are still viable, but the conversation, I think, is where the value is at.

Liz: Certainly. And with that, and with your notion of this master resource allocator and master communicator, there’s so many different puzzle pieces that are going into this to really create and fulfill that vision. And I think that that brings us to our next point. I know that much of your passion has been driving you to really bridge the divide between business and technology. So, when you were first getting started, Humberto, where were areas where you saw gaps or opportunities to connect the two? And what are some things that people could be keeping top of mind as they look to identify the gaps to capitalize on?

Humberto: Sure. I think it’s three areas. In my career, I’ve been able to boil it down to three areas, effective leadership, communication, and project management and methodology. If I look at taking them three individually, effective leadership is a trait that I think we all gain. We don’t start within our career. We learn as we grow, and we take in the experiences through business scenarios that we endeavor every single day and learn how to apply our skills and tactics to overcome those challenges from a day-to-day perspective. That creates an effective leader over time. Going through those different scenarios, exposing themselves to different challenges on a day-to-day basis, expands their knowledge base, expands their ability to manage through different circumstances along the way.

Humberto: Communication, I think, is a huge one. We’ve talked a little bit about it today of trying to set the same standards, understand what the value is, understand what people are driving. And what drives people is another aspect of that. I probably spent a good portion of my PhD career actually looking into cultural dimensions and dynamics behind project management. What I found in that, and there’s a couple of other researchers and academics, like Hofstede and a couple of others, that have gone around the world and created an index of all the different countries and try to understand whether a society is individualistic or if it’s a collaborative society. A lot of times, we find that a lot of the European countries, a lot of the Asia-Pacific countries, a lot more collaborative in nature based on their cultural dimensions from a local perspective. And we find that the American and North American countries are more individualistic.

Humberto: As such, based on those indexes, we’re able to understand population a little bit more and maybe take a deeper dive into the aspect of how does a team come together to actually deliver work when they are geographically dispersed? Nowadays, especially through globalization, which in my opinion is the next step in business maturity today, we’re finding that a lot more teams are being distributed, and not just within the U.S. but distributed across countries, across continents, very far time zone differences, time of day challenges. There’s a lot of personal values and beliefs that go into these different societies across the world. Even just the simple thing as challenging authority, sometimes, maybe something that a specific culture does not do well with and doesn’t want to have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Humberto: You try take these different belief systems and values and put them together to try to come together to do a project. And then, you understand why one person on your team may be a little bit quieter than the other and not speak up when being challenged or being asked to provide their feedback. Or maybe why one person seems to take on the role of, “I’m going to be the leader, and I’m going to champion this forward.” Again, understanding that the culture they come from understanding the perspectives that they carry based from a dimensional perspective, I think this all plays a factor into communications and really, truly, draws the line between project success and project failure.

Humberto: And then methodology or project management, I think is the catch-all to everything, because in a place where communication is limited because of cultural dimensions, because of team dimensions, or even corporate dimensions that go into play, where there is a huge time-gap challenge, or where there’s even a differences in requirement, a good project management methodology helps bring it together and set the standard of this is how we’re going to do work. This is the rules of the game that we’re going to play as a team. And as long as we all agree to play the game by these rules, we’re going to all learn how to communicate better. We’re going to have much more effective leadership within this team. And we’re going to be able to eventually become a high-performing team that doesn’t have to necessarily sit with their local culture or announce their local culture. But in essence, create a new culture, which is their team culture.

Humberto: And that’s again when you look at Scrum when you look at Agile, when you look at scaled Agile, and these other technical type of methodologies, the goal is to become a high performing team. The journey to become a high-performance team is going through these different business scenarios on a day-to-day, week-to-week, sprint-to-sprint base that allows a team to improve their communication, become self-managed and self-disciplined and achieve their objectives on a consistent basis.

Liz: Absolutely. And I love how you talk about the importance and the impact of not only communication but culture. Coming from a service management background, understanding culture and being able to tap into that understanding of who you’re working with, who you’re communicating to, who you’re supporting is critical to ensure continuity, and that the strategy that you’re employing through the use of your technology is as seamless as possible, but actually going to be adopted and well received. So I certainly appreciate that background on what you see as some of those gaps and opportunities. So, I know, again, today, we’re going to be diving further into the topic of business alignment. So, let’s take a moment and actually level set with our listeners. What is business alignment, broadly speaking?

Humberto: Sure. The way I like to call it is internal strategic alignment. It’s referenced in multiple studies out in today’s journals, technical journals, academic journals, as a concept of how do you bring business decision making to a center place. And really, I like to lead with this idea of, as a good tester to the organization, in order to know if you have business alignment to some degree within your organization, a simple exercise could be go ask or listen to your CEO and listen to the goals and the objectives that they’re trying to achieve. Hey, reduce churn by 5%, increase sales by 5%, et cetera, et cetera. And then, go out and ask one of your QAers, your developers, your help desk analysts, your business analysts throughout the organization, what are those top goals for the organization? And see if there’s a delta between what the CEO was telling you and what that person on the team is telling you.

Humberto: If you see that there is a delta in between the two, then I think that there’s an opportunity for misalignment in that organization. Because what ends up happening is we’re not all working on the most important things that the CEO or the officers of the company are setting as, “Hey, this is what’s important.” And so, we have a trust as employees to trust our leadership and setting the right direction for the company. And the leadership has a trust on the employees on executing and delivering across those visions and directions. But if we don’t meet in the middle to set those standards and align the organization from an internal strategic perspective, again, going back to talking a little bit more about pragmatic approaches instead of project approaches, we start understanding the value streams across the organization. And we’re able then to help align those organizations to an ultimate value or a widely important goal, as some will reference it, at the top level.

Humberto: A lot of the examples that I like to use are often around, if the organization has a goal to reduce the churn of their customers by 5% over this next year, then in essence, the programs and projects that we should be going to steering for media review for, should be aligned to those objectives to some regard. They should either be cleaning tech debt that’s preventing us from achieving that. They should be introducing new features or technologies that’s helping us achieve that. Or they should be introducing new ways of innovation that we can take to our customers to try to improve our products so that they stay with us longer term, as just general examples.

Humberto: That’s not to say that we don’t have day-to-day work that needs to get accomplished on a daily basis. That might not necessarily tie directly into those business goals. But it, oftentimes, we want to be able to articulate that and say, “Hey, 60%, 70% of my focus is on our business goals. 20% to 30% of my focus is on keeping the shop running on a day-to-day basis.” And having those conversations, going back to communication, becomes a value. That was a long way of saying that really alignment starts at the top, but it doesn’t end at the bottom. It actually bounces right back. And you have to have that full transparency from the top to the bottom and reverse, from the bottom up, to be able to run a business effectively and ensure that you have achieved internal strategic alignment.

Liz: Definitely. And again, speaking to my service management affinity and understanding here, I so appreciate the incorporation of those value streams. And as you mentioned too, it really is top-down, and then down to the top. So understanding that vision and being able to communicate and articulate as it trickles down and back up those overarching values and goals of the business is absolutely critical to move forward. So again, you’re not working in those silos of, as you mentioned, those day-to-day duties might be, but how is our overall work going to be contributing to the larger vision and value? It seems that unified and strategic communication is really at the core of business alignment and that internal strategic alignment as we’ve discussed. And to me, communication is one of the most important interpersonal skills that is often talked about but can sometimes get overlooked, especially in a technical setting. So Humberto, what do you recommend teams do to learn to communicate and really cross-collaborate more succinctly to better achieve this vision of internal strategic alignment?

Humberto: Sure. I think that there’s two concepts to communication. There’s a fluid form of communication, and there’s a solid form of communication. As leaders and as team members, we have to embrace both forms and know how to use and when to use each form for different purposes, essentially. So, when I look at cross-team communication, especially in a geographical setting, especially where there’s time of day differences, and time zones, and syncing become a little bit more of a challenge, I think that employing the right use of solid communication, writing stuff down, emails, Jira tickets, Asana tickets, using your project management tool or system, those are all great ways to ensure that we don’t miss a requirement, that we don’t miss a specific detail, and that we can hold each other accountable for commitments that we’re making across the team.

Humberto: The fluid form of communication is something that I think not only helps emphasize the solid form but also helps us also articulate and present ourselves, our persona. And so, when we start communicating with different organizations, and different teams, and different business units along the way, sometimes taking more of a humorous approach helps break the ice, essentially, especially when you’re trying to communicate maybe to a new team or even to a team that’s across the international line a little bit. And you’re trying to meet with, going back to my points on cultural dimensions, you’re bringing five different people from five different countries together and asking them to get on the same page and go achieve a similar goal. I think that humorous communications setting a little bit of your personality out and talking to team goes a long way and helps the team become a little bit more comfortable working with each other and opening up a little bit.

Humberto: Because, while you do want to maintain visibility and accountability, you also want to maintain a level of trust, and confidence, and credibility. And I think that that’s the biggest word there is credibility. Before, it was come to work, and you got to become credible with the folks in your office. That was one challenge. Now, it’s come to work, and you got to become credible with people from all over the world that have different ways of looking at each other through their value systems and belief systems. So, credibility becomes even more important. Is this person really bringing the value that they’re saying that they’re going to bring? Is this person as structured as they are saying that they’re structured?

Humberto: And given the COVID environment, that hasn’t made it easier either, because in times where you can come and collaborate and break the ice and say, “You know what? As a leader, I’m going to bring my entire team together. We’re going to pick a location have all the people fly in. We’re going to have great dinners, have great conversation, get on the same page.” We’ve been restricted for two years from being able to do that as well. So, I believe that communication is the center-hitching post for everything within your team. If you don’t have a good solid or fluid form of communication or a good process that helps manage your communications across team, I think that the team will have a harder time to become highly efficient and effective over a course for a period of time.

Liz: I couldn’t agree with you more. And as you mentioned, given our geographic disbursement, as teams are maintaining these hybrid operations, I think having, as you mentioned, not only the solid and the fluid communication but also making it transparent so that you can foster that credibility and trust moving forward is crucial. Again, especially as you’re working either top-down or from the bottom back up to convey that strategy and those values moving forward. I think it’s evident from everything that we’ve discussed so far that internal strategic or business alignment is incredibly layered. But I’d like to take a moment to look at it under the scope of monitoring. How can the monitoring team and the data that other technical folks are regularly collecting be intertwined into that internal strategic alignment and those conversations?

Humberto: So, I think the secret ingredient to internal strategic alignment is data analysis. It’s data correlation. And throughout my career, I’ve always tried to let the data do the talking and not let the person do the talking because it’s easier to reason with data. And I think that that’s where monitoring and instrumentation really help a technical leader, or even just a business leader, really understand what’s going on within their infrastructure. If we were to take our monitoring or our monitoring points, from a technical perspective, and try to correlate them across different data points, try to pivot them, try to bring the data together, to try to let the data tell the story a little bit, it’s going to quickly start showing you where your areas of success are, where areas of trouble are. It’s going to be able to put measurements on areas where you really want to ensure consistency, sustainability, or even predictability.

Humberto: And I think that that’s where monitoring comes into play. We have to be able to see the infrastructure. We have to be able to understand the infrastructure. We have to be able to know what values we’re trying to bring out of the infrastructure that we’re building. And I think that that’s a key component to this whole thing is that infrastructure is typically built for purpose. I need a website, so we go build a bunch of servers to run your website. Then I need e-commerce, then we go build a bunch of stuff to run e-commerce, and so on and so forth. Or we need a custom report, or we need this, that, and the other. The technology is usually built to the purpose that it was intended.

Humberto: Oftentimes, in going back to my business to technology translation, it’s often too late. By the time somebody gets in front of it and says, “Ah, now I really see the big picture of what they’re trying to build. Let me go now make all these different changes on the IT side to accommodate what the business is doing.” And this is where monitoring really comes into place. Because, if we have the right monitoring, if we’re measuring the right stuff, then we’re able to go back to the business and indicate, “Hey, based on the value that you set in this program or project when we went out and try to build this technical component, we set up all the monitoring in place. And we’ve determined that, hey, usage is pretty low. You guys were expecting that your customers were going to use X amount of data. You’re only getting so much data.” There’s an indicator or KPI that’s telling you that you’re not being as successful as you thought you were.

Humberto: Setting up monitoring as well for service levels, understanding that, “Hey, I have a request that came in,” or, “Hey, there’s an issue,” I expect a certain recovery time within that team. Being able to set those monitoring points in your infrastructure not only helps you control yourself police yourself, as you’re going through incidents, as you’re working through problems, but also to help keep the business off your back by pointing them to the instrumentation and saying, “Hey, this is the point you want to look at. When it comes back up and running, you know that we’re up, we’re good, we’re stable. And we’re trying to keep the text engaged on what they’re trying to do.” So, there’s a lot of different scenarios where monitoring comes into place.

Humberto: But in my opinion, where I find the most value out of monitoring is taking monitoring more collectively at the top and understanding big picture of what you’re trying to accomplish with your infrastructure. Is it secure? Is it stable? Does it have enough resources to support the business? Is it agile enough to be able to be flexible with the business to change direction as the business needs to change? Or is it monolithic, and it really requires us to take more of a tactical approach to moving things around as the business grows. These are all the stories that monitoring tells you as a business leader. And then, as a business leader, you can then take this data and essentially put the direction that you want behind it.

Liz: I think that that’s such a great line; let the data do the talking. And just as you mentioned too, I think those stories help create that holistic vision and picture so that you can see the forest, not just the trees, which I think is super important, again, as we go back to that notion of communication and how you can convey to different audiences, no matter their position in the organization, their technical understanding, or their cultural background. Having that story paired with the data that you are collecting is going to be so instrumental in really driving home that point or even things along the line of organizational changes that you’re looking to employ. So I think that that’s so important.

Liz: Along those same lines, just as we have seen that the business alignment or internal strategic alignment is layered, so is monitoring. And as you mentioned, it really is at the heart of so many different stories, impacting different decisions that are being made or changes that are implemented. So, from your experiences, Humberto, how should teams look to really communicate and portray the value in monitoring in tandem with those broader organizational initiatives?

Humberto: I think that once a good data analysis is conducted and you understand what you’re trying to do with your systems and how you’re building out your infrastructure behind it to support it, I think then, at that point, you really need to have a conversation with your leadership and look at those data points and understand the direction you’re taking. If you’re expecting an up and to the right type of flow with a certain data growth, or a certain consumption model, or certain subscription model, I think the data is available there, and monitoring and having a good strategic viewpoint of your organization on those key-value systems and streams helps you articulate, not only articulate but also emphasize your value and your business objective. In essence, I personally wouldn’t be able to run an IT environment. I personally wouldn’t be able to work inside of an IT environment that doesn’t have proper monitoring established because it would make it really, really hard for me to go back to my business leader and articulate what I’m trying to accomplish with the infrastructure that we’re trying to build.

Humberto: IT is an expensive commodity. And a lot of times, what we put into our investment may not sometimes turn out to be what we expected. Having the right monitoring in place keeps us on the course helps us ensure that what we’re doing and where we’re investing, we’re ultimately getting the value that we really anticipated.

Liz: Absolutely. And I think that’s so beautifully put. It really is your North Star helping to navigate whatever waters you’ve come across or what might be ahead in the future. And along those same lines, in terms of communication, how would you recommend folks really convey either some of the pitfalls or possible trade-offs of using monitoring or even another technical solution in their arsenal to achieve business targets?

Humberto: I think that business targets, you really have to start with an end in mind perspective. And I think that there’s a bunch of different theories that go out there and think about starting with the end in mind. And a bunch of different academics and practitioners around the world have looked at this concept. There’s even things like, for example, the Four Disciplines of Execution by Steven Covey and Franklin Covey. They really talk about really establishing those right KPIs and metrics around starting with the end of mind in order to set your North Star directionally.

Humberto: Once that’s established, you want to set up your instrumentation underneath it to help manage your business. There’s all types of instrumentation. There is all types of system alerts, notifications, and monitoring that come back. It’s not just intrusion detection. It’s not just IPs. It’s not just resources within a network. It’s also violations. It’s also notifications. There’s also compliance and governance that goes into monitoring and reviewing your different practices. And depending on business certification paths or the certification path the business decides to employ, Sarbanes-Oxley, SOCS, SOC 1, SOC 2, HIPAA are all going to have provisions, GDPR are all going to have provisions that we, as an organization, have to take an employee internally.

Humberto: Setting up the right monitoring and notifications internally are going to help us manage those environments and be able to go back in the case of an auditor, in case of a conversation, and prove that, yep, there’s evidence in the environment that things are being monitored. There’s evidence in the environment that we’re able to ensure that we have control and that we can also ensure that the data is safe along the way throughout the different networks and throughout the different tiers that we access on a day-to-day basis. So, monitoring is extremely important for all aspects of your business, not just technical. Monitoring should be something that we all use on a day-to-day basis to tell us whether we’re winning and losing in a very short amount of time.

Liz: That was just going to go to my next point as well, that I think helps play into, as you mentioned, the story that we’re telling and really helping teams, with data in hand, understand whether you’re actually leveraging your technologies effectively and how they’re working to achieve cohesively most optimal results. So, I think that those are all really important things to keep in mind in terms of how you’re orchestrating your instrumentation, but again how you are communicating and conveying what’s taking place, what’s occurring, and how we’re achieving those targets moving forward to other audiences, be that your existing team or to stakeholders that are higher up as well.

Humberto: Monitoring could be really quickly tied into OKRs and KPI structures throughout organizations. That’s, honestly, the beauty of monitoring, in my opinion. It’s like, simply ask your leader, “Hey, what’s the most important things that you really want me to keep my eye on?”, essentially. And then, that technical leader, that business unit leader, is able to go back and say, “Hey, based on my goals and objectives for this year, these are the five components of my business that are most important. Let’s keep a really close eye on these things.” Automated reports, monitoring reports, all types of things, observability reports, can come out that show, “Hey, we’re keeping our eye on the ball. We’re trying to make sure that we’re making progress and that we’re able to call out any issues or any impediments that appear throughout time.”

Liz: Definitely. And I think that that’s a great point as well, Humberto, is have that conversation so that you can have your baseline to start where you are. But that’s going to require iterative conversations and continual improvement to maintain those targets, but also to adjust based on what’s taking place internally and external to your environment as well. Now, before we wrap up, and as our listeners are in all different phases of our careers, Humberto, I would love to hear some advice that you might offer to someone who’s both getting started and to someone who might be old hat at spearheading internal business alignment.

Humberto: That’s a great question. I think you have to have a little bit of a split-brain personality to get into this strategic business alignment mindset. And mostly because you’re not just looking at the tangible artifacts, or the tangible products, or the tangible releases within a technology layer. You’re trying to incrementalize value. You’re trying to have a good conversation and tell a good story.

Humberto: And I think that that’s when I look back at my career and where do I find the most fun, the most passion, the most well-spent time, it’s always been in watching the story unfold. Joining a new team for the first couple of weeks, building the credibility, setting the processes and the standards, working with the team to ensure that the technology is of quality and has proper controls, all that’s fun. But then, being able to zoom out and then watching month over month as your team has increased velocity, has achieved sustainability, has gotten to the point where they’re pretty much predictable with their next level of deliveries is really an exciting story.

Humberto: And in order for you to really appreciate that story, you have to be able to look at the value of IT, not just from a technical perspective, but also from a, I guess, personal perspective or business perspective, to know that there’s more to see. Being able to control that drip-feed of content, of information, throughout your career, is extremely valuable in becoming a strong person that really seeks to drive through data, drive through logic, drive through reasoning, in order to help a business overcome challenges and really continuously improve. And that double underlying, under continuous improvement, every aspect, every process, every framework, every discussion that we all have has an opportunity to continuously improve and incrementalize from there forward. And I think that that’s at the heart of the mindset that you want to have going into this field is you want to always continuously improve.

Humberto: I think a good analogy that I like to reference oftentimes is you got to be an athlete. What makes you an athlete is a person that’s continuously looking to improve every single day. And so, I think that that’s really been the biggest value, or the biggest accomplishment in my life has been, I’m an athlete. I’m a technical athlete. I’m a mental gymnastics gymnast. I’m a mental gymnast as I’m able to work through not just the technical aspect, not just the requirements coming from the business, but being able to articulate a story that tells a bigger picture of really, what are we trying to accomplish? And here’s how we get there, essentially.

Liz: And with this technical athlete mentality as well, Humberto, taking this notion of, again, we’re all in different times and aspects of our careers, what if I have been an Olympic technical athlete, I’ve surpassed my time on the bar, what would you recommend to those who have been at this for some time to improve how they’re communicating the value of internal strategic alignment to others?

Humberto: Honestly, never stop learning. I think that we have to continuously look at the world through different dimensions. Just like technology doesn’t stay the same, I think we, as people, cannot stay the same. I think, if there’s any value in taking what I learned yesterday and never improving it, it more of a detriment at that point than it is a value. And just because I was great at running projects five years ago, or just because I was great at implementing technology five years ago, it doesn’t mean that I’m great at it today. I may be better at it. I may be worse at it. I might be better at something else. So really, the idea here is to never treat yourself as a master of anything; always treat yourself as a student or disciple of whatever trade you decide to pick.

Humberto: And ultimately, I think the one factor of success that I would have to recall is the aspect of never giving up. You’re going to have your real tough days. You’re going to have your days that it doesn’t make sense. And that’s okay. Those days are great to have, in fact. They’re great opportunities to learn and get to know yourself. They are. They’re amazing. If you are defeated by those days, this is not the gig for you. If you’re enthusiastic about more and more of those days, because, frankly, that’s how you’re learning, that’s how you’re expanding your business scenario, that’s how you’re being able to apply growth based on your day-to-day progression, then this is the right career for you. Welcome aboard.

Liz: I love that. Stay hungry, stay humble, with a side of humility.

Humberto: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Liz: Well, we’ve covered a lot of ground today. Humberto, you’ve certainly given us a lot to think about. This is all that we have time for, but I really cannot thank you enough for joining me. It was an absolute pleasure.

Humberto: Yes, likewise. This was a pleasure. I look forward to future events and to continue the rhetoric on this conversation. As you mentioned, there’s lots of layers and different perspectives that we can employ from a strategic alignment perspective. So, the opportunity to continue the conversation is always present.

Liz: Absolutely. Thanks so much again for your time today. Want to hear from others around monitoring for managers? We have a space on THWACK dedicated to this topic. Head to our community and join the conversation. If you’ve enjoyed what you heard today and are interested in other Tech Pod conversations, take a moment to subscribe. That’s it for me. Be well.