“You cannot solve a problem by applying the same thinking that got you into the problem in the first place”
Substantial improvements in business IT exploitation effectiveness cannot be brought about by fiddling at the edges of yesterday’s flawed IT exploitation model. A new agenda and ground rules are needed that are better suited to dealing effectively with the demands of today’s fast changing digital business world.
Today’s business management process and culture must ensure that there is a closer partnership between business process redesign and its enabling IT infrastructure and applications, such that there is constant alignment between the IT and business drivers of change.
This calls for close collaboration at every level in the business, thereby ensuring effective unity of purpose between all parties to the change process. Changes in business culture and the business’s attitude to IT may be needed. In particular, a supportive business change environment needs to signal a decisive shift in emphasis away from the technology drivers of change, and towards business process fundamentals as the principal driving force.
A change management process that spans traditional business and IT boundaries is required. It needs to concentrate minds on both IT and business critical success issues in equal measure, with clearer business management accountability for change.
Such structural and cultural change needs to be initiated and driven by the CEO and the board, as well as by the CIO, in order to kick start this new agenda and ensure that it becomes absorbed throughout the organization.
Typically board level participation in the IT exploitation process needs to be better informed and more proactive, with a relatively small but quite distinct shift in the interface where directors’ personal engagement with the subject is called for. This increase in directors’ personal participation in the IT enabled business change process inevitably leads to more soundly based top level direction of change, and to clearer business accountability for results.
The board will be better informed and more proactive in this area if a new board level sub-committee, that is supported by an appropriate briefing infrastructure, is dedicated to that end. The formation and workings of such a body are described at length in The DILIGENT DIRECTOR in a Digital Business World, as is the Unity management briefing infrastructure within which it sits.
That Unity briefing infrastructure can often be created in part by replacing or restructuring existing committees, such as IT project fire-fighting activities that may often take up a great deal of top and middle management time.
The new top level forum is routinely fed with ideas and process improvement initiatives to deal with business process challenges, and it pays special attention to identifying and learning from mistakes and to acting accordingly – often claimed, but seldom achieved in today’s development scenario.
Enormous business benefits flow from adopting this new agenda, including less duplication of effort across the organisation, and more effective and productive use of senior peoples’ time.
A NEW AGENDA
1. DELIVERY of top quality IT Services in order to inspire trust and confidence in the way forward.
2. LEADERSHIP through better informed and more proactive board direction of change.
3. INFORMED BY an immediacy of reporting on relevant trends and future risks & opportunities.
4. SUPPORTED BY a business environment that actively encourages and supports change.
5. BASED ON constant Business Process Centric performance appraisal & redesign.
6. ENABLED BY a closer & more effective partnership between disparate participants.
A CAUTIONARY THOUGHT
“In times of rapid change you need roots for strength as well as wings to fly.
Our roots are our experiences, good and bad, that made us what we are.
But our single minded focus on the New can destroy the strengths of the Old.
Business & IT alignment is an effective response to that trap for the unwary”