Why We Killed "The Business" - Part 1
Seriously, we killed The Business. We got rid of it entirely. It was hurting our ability to be successful - or at least as successful as we could be. So…we killed it.
I should back up. For anyone who doesn't work daily in or around your company’s IT department (as I didn’t until two years ago), you might not realize that there could be some name calling going on in your company. If you don’t know what The Business is, you likely are The Business. And worse – if you are The Business, and you’re not fully aligning your company’s long-term objectives with your IT roadmap – you’re missing out on something that could propel you forward.
I first heard "The Business” used negatively when I joined a CIO working group with friendly competitors. Here are some examples of what was said:
- “The Business has no idea how long it will take to do this, but they want it now.”
- “I can’t seem to get it through to The Business that we can’t stop everything because they forgot to include us in planning.”
- “We’re rolling out a new system, but everyone in The Business has different ideas of its importance.”
HOLD UP. They were talking about their own companies as if they were rivals! I felt two immediate things. (1) A little defensive because I’m part of The Business (ugh), and (2) a little defensive because I represent IT. But what bugged me most was the “us vs. them” mindset, the blame game and the flat-out name calling. I’m competitive, but “us vs. them” is saved for the Bears vs. the Packers or the Badgers vs. well…anyone else in the Big Ten. I was part of “them” (on both sides!), and it drove me nuts. It was then that I made a promise to myself that The Business wouldn’t be used at Assurance that way. Ever.
Assurance’s long-term strategic objectives rely on technology, and the IT team is a major operational component of our company. This isn’t a competition; it’s a partnership. The long-term success of a company relies on strategic objectives being complimented by the IT roadmap. Both should evolve together over time, and one should never be left standing on its own.
I feel fortunate to have a unique perspective in my role. I drive major strategic projects, make operational decisions, have operational oversight of IT and feel the benefit of seeing (and being) firmly in both worlds. Over time, my own thoughts about what’s possible have evolved by focusing on the strengths of both areas.
Technology is a tool to achieve goals and can be an important resource for scalability, analysis, real-time client access and efficiency. But technology should never be the outcome. I'm a big advocate for the presence of a technology leader on the senior leadership team. If that’s not an option, strong alignment between your leadership team and the IT team is critical. Today more than ever, the success of a company relies heavily on its technology – both for the success of major projects and simply to remain connected and keep your data secure. If the IT team is resorting to name calling, something is failing.
In my next post, “Why We Killed The Business – Part 2,” I’ll tell you simple things we’ve done to create a partnership between our entire organization and our IT team…and to stop the name calling once and for all.
- Why We Killed The Business - Part 2
- Friendly Competitors
- Regrets, I Have (more than) A Few
- Business Advice From Dr. Seuss
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