Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Future of IT

There is no magic sauce when working to fix an organization or department. Often I’m accused of over simplifying the process when doing an evaluation but it’s often when looking at problem in simple terms where the solution becomes apparent. The first mistake organizations make when making improvements is to realize that fixes cannot occur with a top down or bottoms up approach. Rather it needs to incorporate both approaches. The top down approach will define the organizational strategy which must always be the top consideration. Conversely the bottom up approach will allow those who are in the trenches to correctly identify the problems and offer suggestions for resolution. Where their complications arise is in making sure the bottoms up recommendations are fully in support of the top down strategy.
The Top down approach can only be successful if integrating the IT team into the upfront, top-down business planning processes of the organization. Additionally for both approaches Strategy is viewed as a “theoretical activity” rather than an operational planning process. Strategy can only be made real if it is directly linked to how the organization will make day-to-day investment and prioritization processes. Strategy is not something that can be done once and then executed over a multi-year period. Strategy needs to take the long-term view, with the recognition that annual events will require the business and IT to make adjustments to new market conditions or accepted events. It must be continually tested and validated over the planning period. Many CIOs have difficulty in getting business input to their IT strategy initiatives because the business doesn’t have a clearly articulated business strategy or because the CIO doesn’t know how to plan for, and respond to, multiple business requirements from multiple shared-service business customers.
My approach to accommodating and improving this process is to create a mind map with the organizational leaders as well as the day to day heroes. Using the mind map we will discuss which components of the map support the organizational strategy and which don’t. After determining the components which are useful and which aren’t, we will then value stream the problem components and dive in to problem activities which aren’t value added. Anything which is something the customer is not willing to pay for cannot be considered value added. After determining the Value added/Non-Value added ratio we will go to work to fix the problems. The above defined process is very high level but is an easy intro in to how to address organizational problems while empowering your employees to own and fix the issues.

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