You know it: you want a seat at the table. Can you get it without creating value? Do you know how to create IT value?
One of the least talked about aspects of IT strategy is the team. Any great idea is useless without execution – unless you have broken the code of team less execution, you will need a team to create an IT Strategy.
Rule 1: IT Strategy is a process
Strategy is that thing that you “do” once every three years or so. One’s time horizon might be different but the underlying logic is the same.
Now, wipe that thought off your mind and recognize that IT Strategy is a process – continuous, closed loop process. You create a strategy then monitor and control it through a feedback loop. This feedback provides real world data when the rubber finally meets the road. IT Strategy then adapts and changes based upon this feedback.
Rule 2: Every process needs a champion:
Without a champion a process is an orphan and the story of orphans do not often make the best seller list.
Who is responsible for IT strategy in a company? Often we get the incorrect response: the CIO!
Yes, this thought conforms to the first rule of management: find a scapegoat! But it does little by way of getting the job done. The CEO is the undisputed leader of an organization. IT Strategy is an issue on their agenda.
Rule 3: Every leader needs a team
Organizations go through decades without actually having an IT Strategy team. There is no clear career path; no job description; no universal titles; little by way of training. Then people wonder why IT is not creating the biggest bang for the buck!
Get a team in place. Train them. Compensate them. Remember, the Titanic sunk because the “lookout” process was flawed.
Rule 4: IT Strategy is an interdisciplinary sport
That “IT” in front of the term often confuses the uninitiated. It is a strategy for IT – in many ways – but it is not for IT to develop. Try doing it in a vacuum and you will have a document – not an IT Strategy. (I get a chuckle out of reading the definition of IT Strategy on Wikipedia – it is apparently a “document”!) Get people from all across the isle and you will unleash unprecedented value – both by identifying the right investment opportunities and getting the cooperation of the people you need to deliver on this promise.
Rule 5: Ownership comes from doing
In this day of extreme outsourcing we have seen just about everything outsourced. From child bearing to child rearing, and everything in between and after, people ask other people to take care of their problems. We have cutesy labels to go with this shunning of responsibility – outsource, in-source, near shore, far shore; vendor, provider, partner and surrogate – intermingled with brilliant theories on business models and core competencies.
There are still some boundaries that have not been crossed. Who knows when fathers will outsource child conception but given the love of outsourcing that day might not be too far along!
IT Strategy is your asset but if you live to be a “problem solver” then take it as your “problem”. You have to solve it. Problems do not solve themselves, you need to own them. Hiring consultants is a good idea – from my vantage point a brilliant idea! – but managing that relationship is what makes all the difference. Pay a consultant enough and he will say and do what you want. In the end though did you get something of value? Respect her expertise and knowing how to combine that with your team’s knowledge of your business? Priceless!
Fact remains: IT Strategy is YOUR problem so OWN it.
In most endeavors in life – it takes a village. IT Strategy is no different. Get a team together. Work with the consultant but please do not outsource your IT Strategy.
You have prayed long enough. Now, your dream to create unprecedented IT value needs wings.