The IT Holy Grail: Part 2 – Start with the End in Mind

The Typical Strategy Process indicates:

  • Where we are
  • Where we want to be
  • How to get there

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A Commencement Reminder

A friend of mine liked this video on Facebook today.  I liked it so much, I decided to make it the first post on my blog in a very long time.  Enjoy.

Some great lessons, and an excellent reminder

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Back to Financial Services

At the end of November, I moved to I-Net Bridge to take on a CIO role. The move back to financial services is very refreshing.

I am excited about the opportunity and feel the weight of a great responsibility to an already successful organisation.

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The IT holy grail

Strategic Alignment of IT with the declared business strategy is a topic that seems to be widely regarded as a holy grail.  Something Everyone Strives for, but seldom achieves.

In my last few roles I have encountered a number of challenges in achieving a satisfactory IT strategy:

  • A business strategy that is not published or is unclear
  • The desired role of IT in the business is unclear
  • It is unclear who the leaders in each business unit are
  • An unwillingness by IT leaders to declare a strategy – always deferring to the so-called “business”

Let’s face it, if the business strategy is clear, and is officially published, the task is not so daunting.  If however you are in an organisation that exhibits some of the above difficulties, then the task of defining an aligned IT strategy looks a little more tricky.

I firmly believe that when we are looking at the problem of an aligned IT strategy, we incorrectly try to engage our engineering skills, instead of our artisitic skills.

Now clearly there should be a balance, but I do not believe the right strategy can be defined with purely technical analysis. Lateral thinking, creative solutions, cross discipline thinking, presentation and graphic design; These are the most valuable tools.

For me, the most impactful and resonant IT strategies have been created when I have simply mulled over the business strategic problems for a period of time, and one day woken up thinking “aha – this is what IT should do to respond to those”.  I have wondered if this process could somehow be defined or mapped out, like an engineering process, but alas, lately I have come to believe it is not a process, so much as an art.  Now every artist has their own creative process, but most use the same tools: easel, paintbrush, paints etc.

So in this series I shall attempt to describe my own creative process, and also some of the tools I believe every IT strategist could employ to great benefit.

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From Planes to Trains

I’ll be starting today at PRASA (Passenger Rail Agency South Africa).  There are a number of reasons for this move, but primarily it is an opportunity to do even more for South Africa, that will impact more people.

Also this role presents the challenge of unifying solutions across previously disparate organistions.  Something I am familiar with from my time in Stockbroking IT, where company mergers happened fairly often.

My presentation for “Help Desk & IT Service Management World Africa 2009” (whew, what a name) is coming along, and I’m hoping it will be a lot of fun, as well as giving everyone some useful thinking tools.

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