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API Journal: Blog Post

IT Lessons from the King of Pop

Best Practices from Michael Jackson for IT professionals

Want to change the face of IT in your organization? You might find inspiration from a very unlikely source: Michael Jackson.

You don't have to be a fan of the late superstar to recognize how the mega-successful Jackson changed the face of music. Can the face of IT be changed by following some of Jackson's best practices? Here are some insights straight from NeverLand that IT managers can consider to help change the perception of IT within their organizations.

michael jackson1. Innovate by looking internally.  When Jackson changed the world of dance, he did not seek inspiration from areas outside the world of contemporary dance. He looked to a familiar and close community for creativity:  hip-hop dancers. That's where much of his innovative choreography came from. From an IT perspective, some IT managers look outside their organizations for innovative best practices and inspiration. And external sources can be a great fount of creativity, but DO cast an eye closer to home.  Very often you can find internal sources of innovative ideas from your own team or from other groups within your organization.  The key is to have a channel of collaboration up and running so cutting-edge ideas can disseminate, populate and grow.

2. Partner with the right colleague.  Some of Jackson's best solo efforts came from collaboration with jazz great, Quincy Jones. He chose the right partner at the right time. When creating and especially when launching any IT initiative or program, collaborating with the right partner can hugely influence your initiative's success. It might mean thinking outside of the IT box. Could Marketing or PR help early adoption and create messages that will resonate with employees? Could Corporate Communications be a strategic partner to spearhead internal acceptance? Consider partners who you have not considered previously.

3. Take risks. One of Jackson's earliest risks was publishing the 1982 song, "This Girl is Mine," which intimated an interracial relationship.  It was very daring for that period, but the risk paid off big-time. Even though economic concerns are currently top of mind, some say now is the best time to take risks. Don't let the economy be the deciding factor that stifles risk-taking. Be prudent and contemplative about your risks, but do be confident enough to take them.

4. Align with complimentary technologies.  When Jackson took the high-powered sound of his "Thriller

" album and adapted it to a MTV video, he aligned his music to a "new" video technology. From an IT perspective, can you impact internal awareness, generate some buzz and even affect productivity by aligning with a new social medium? For example, instead of just sending an email blast to your staff, try a video-on-demand, or post quick messages on Twitter. At the very least, you will certainly get the attention of your Millennial workers.

5. Execute flawlessly. Think of Jackson's "Moonwalk." Others might have tried it, but it was his meticulous execution that made this his signature dance. Can you apply a flawless "Moon Walking" execution to all your initiatives and projects?michael jackson monwalk

6. Gather the "best and the brightest.
" When Jackson and Quincy Jones put together, "We Are the World," they gathered the best singers, songwriters and performers on the planet. Nothing but super stars.  It's the same philosophy JFK used when he created his cabinet. Examine existing talent in your organization, and use the "We Are the World" litmus test. Be sure your talent is at the top of their game. If not, assess and apply remediation, and work with HR to help put innovative development opportunities in place so you can up-level skills and then retain that top talent.

7. Create your own signature style. There was only one Michael Jackson, and when he put his stamp on a song, no one could doubt it was his.  What will your legacy be at your company? Is there a way you can create your own brand, your own style of communicating or innovating or leading, so that when people see a project or initiative or IT result, they can clearly see your signature on it?

No matter what your perceptions are of Michael Jackson, IT managers and the late King of Pop can be connected in more ways than you might have imagined.

More Stories By Loraine Antrim

Loraine Antrim is co-founder of Core Ideas Communication, a communications consulting agency focused on presentation development and media training for C-suite executives. Core Ideas enables executives to package and communicate relevant and compelling messages in their presentations and interviews. Loraine's expertise is killing butterflies. You know, butterflies: the feeling in your stomach before you have to present or speak in public. Loraine works with executives to create a powerful story, memorable messages and an authentic delivery style. Confidence kicks in, and butterflies scatter. Nice work killing butterflies! You can contact Loraine at: manager at

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