A little history first (Yes, there will be exceptions to
what is detailed here, but we are talking of the general pattern of what
happened over time)….
In the beginning the IT department did not exist and
therefore was not represented in Enterprises at all, but eventually IT came
into being and Enterprises started to see the value in using it without
creating an IT departments per se.
Over time, as IT grew, it logically got to a point where the
Enterprise required an IT department to handle it, and hence IT departments
were born. These IT departments were essentially bolted onto the side of
whatever currently existed in the Enterprise.
At first no one on the board knew what to do with this
growing IT department or who should oversee it, and so the IT department was
often placed under other “support” areas such as HR or Finance.
As the IT department (and IT complexity) grew, it became
clear that the HR or Finance Director did not have the knowledge to manage it
effectively and hence the birth of the IT Director / CTO / CIO type roles.
Initially, although “on the Board”, the people appointed to these roles were
often not seen as “proper” Directors most of the time, and instead were
tolerated, more as a necessary evil, than welcomed as peers.
As time moved on, and with the ever increasing use (and
complexity) of IT, these roles gained prominence and understanding, and were
made, and accepted to be, proper board level positions. However, IT departments
are still largely a chunk bolted onto the side of the Enterprise - as they were
when IT first came to be used.
This illustrates the Normal view of how many view an
Enterprise, in terms of Business departments and the IT department.
People who work in “The
Business” see their domain as the most important, and “IT” as a separate entity
which supports “The Business” and is often shown/thought of as underneath “The
Business” and therefore viewed as, subservient. Yes, IT only exists to support
“The Business”, but in the 21st Century this
Business myopic view is flawed because IT is an integral part of “The Business”.
The IT department
People who work in IT see
their domain as the most important, and “The Business” as everything else that
is not IT. Yes, IT is a major part of “The Business”, but in the 21st
Century this IT myopic view is flawed because “The Business”
is an integral part of IT.
In each of the
camps, there is strategy work, transformation work, operations work and support
The reality is that “The Business” and “IT” are inextricably
linked and cannot be separated.
In terms of strategy, we cannot continue to develop a
business strategy and then create and IT strategy to support it. They need to
be developed together. The Business Strategy and the IT Strategy are not
important or effective on their own. They are only important and effective
Similarly, Operations is a mixture of Business and IT
components, that are inextricably linked and need to work together effectively.
They need to be operated together. Business operations and IT operations are
not important or effective on their own. They are only important and effective
Transformation is a mixture of Business and IT
transformation, that are inextricably linked and need to work together
effectively. They need to be operated together. Business Transformation and IT
Transformation are not important or effective on their own. They are only
important and effective together.
Support is a mixture of Business and IT support (or rather
should be) that are inextricably linked and need to work together effectively. They
need to be operated together. Business Support and IT Support are not important
or effective on their own. They are only important and effective together.
There is much more we could say about The support domain, but that is covered
in POES – The Pragmatic Operating Model for Enterprise Support.
From this it becomes clear that thinking in terms of
“Business” and “IT” is not fit for purpose.
The Pragmatic view of how People (especially those that
Direct Enterprises) should view their Enterprise is in terms of these
strategically important domains. This new way of looking at the fundamental
structure of an Enterprise is a Paradigm shift. Instead of looking at the
Enterprise from the point of view of its major parts, we look at the enterprise
from the point of view of wholes that are made up of parts. What is of
strategic importance are these wholes. The end-to-end effectiveness,
efficiency, agility and sustainability of these wholes - Direction, Operation,
Transformation and Support.
We are not saying that Enterprises were wrong to think and
organise themselves as in plate A. That was a reasonable way of thinking and
organising themselves in the past. In fact, it was the rational, reasonable and
logical way of thinking and organising themselves. But we have moved from a
world where IT didn’t exist and was optional, to a world where IT is pervasive
This is no longer an IT thing. This is a Transformation
thing. We need a paradigm shift from thinking in terms of “The Business” and
IT, to thinking in terms of Direction, Operation, Transformation and Support.