The Business-Technology Weave

Mar 11 2010   7:19AM GMT

Knowing Where You Are: The Two Types of Organizations in Today’s Weave

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott

 

Two Types of Organizations – Where Are You?

In today’s business environment, from the Weave perspective, there are two types of organizations. Simply put: those that understand how to manage business-technology endeavors, and those that do not. In order for the IT leader to effectively manage – to maximize that department’s support to business – the organization as a whole must be able to effectively manage IT. It’s a partnership – but a partnership that Business manages.

A frequent complaint from IT leaders (and quite a few business leaders) translates as “my organization doesn’t understand technology.” The follow-on from Business is that systems are cumbersome, don’t deliver as expected, and that IT help is frequently ineffective. A parallel IT follow-on is that senior executives, directors and managers don’t understand IT, and many simply care not to. Within these circumstances, Business and IT fail to set an example, which means that staff fails to understand, or seek how to effectively use, the technology at their disposal. The result is that many organizations don’t understand technology’s true role in the organization, and our modern responsibility within that.

On one end of the extreme is the organization that thinks of IT as a sort of glorified typewriter repair. Plans and success for optimal alignment between business and technology suffer here, but so too does the day-to-day. In other words, people at all levels of the organization first and foremost think of IT as a place to call when their PC acts up. Theirs is a rather benign, naïve view of the technology lever – and therefore they don’t grab that lever and use it to maximum effect. The organization does not reap the best return on its technical supports and investments. In this realm too are those that resent technology – they have an adversarial relationship with it and the people who support it. At best is a view that technology is a necessary evil of sorts – there is a diminished and delayed engagement on the planning and execution of solutions, as this engagement is viewed as a difficult, unrewarding, endeavor.

At the other extreme is the organization that “gets it” – IT occupies a place at the organization’s planning table – there’s not a relevant business decision made without IT’s knowledge, and it’s recommendation. People respect technology’s interwoven contribution, and they value the professionals who work within this important core endeavor. In these environments, people poke, explore, suggest and expand systems’ capabilities. They are more likely to self-motivate in expanding their knowledge, and in contributing to the forward momentum of the Business-Technology Weave.

Most organizations fall somewhere in the middle. No matter where your organization falls, there is always room for improvement – as we shall explore in the coming days and weeks…  the first important key is to know where you are.  You cannot get where you’re trying to go if you do not know where you’re starting from.  Tell me how to get to Chicago.  Tell me.  You must first ask me, “From where are you departing?”

In the next day or so, we will next explore a simple checklist for determining where your organization IS, (in terms of culture, business-technology acumen, protocols for planning, etc.) in order to effectively plan the subsequent “destinations” of projects, deliveries, and various positionings for implementation of new products, new training, new security measures – all the demands a changing world makes.

Knowing where you are – where you truly are – helps you to maneuver, and helps your organization as a whole in piloting its way forward to the ultimate destination:  Success.

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