IT/Business Marriage Counseling

I agree with most of Susan Cramm‘s pieces, but she goes on a bit of a rant on the role of line managers in making IT’s life impossible (here).  While there is at least a grain of truth in her complaints, the IT “can’t do” attitude that infuriates line executives pervades the piece.

IT managers are tired of being treated like high priced waiters serving technology de jour on a moment’s notice.

Perhaps IT managers should stop acting like waiters and order takers for the business. It would be nice if IT wouldn’t “need to study” a request to deploy only somewhat new technology — e.g., Enterprise 2.0 — then come back and say “yes, but”.  Perhaps IT could anticipate what the business needed, for once?

Luke’s business “partners”… in their single-minded pursuit of customers, products and profit [emphasis mine],… simply forgot about IT.

If only IT knew what it’s like to have a single-minded pursuit of those pesky customers, products, and profit.  Not like that’s where their paychecks come from…

Alignment is meant to ensure that the right IT products and services are available to meet business needs with minimal angst for all involved [emphasis mine].

This definition/goal sounds good, but articulates a common IT mistake about defining alignment — avoiding conflict (“yes, but”).  Alignment on the day-to-day running and evolution of the business is generally angst-free because they can be planned for.  A service mindset is fine here.

However, new, innovative, and disruptive concepts cause angst in IT because they aren’t about alignment with today’s business;  they are about anticipating tomorrow’s market.  Conflict, time pressure, and hard choices are part of the innovation game.  Too many times IT steps back from these prioritization conversations saying they’re the responsibility of the business. 

No wonder IT gets surprised so often!  Too bad that Luke’s IT shop didn’t encourage him to take that job with the business partner organization.  Perhaps he would have known to pitch his “professional fit” a little earlier.

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