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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.

Plate A

This illustrates the Normal view of how many view an Enterprise, in terms of Business departments and the IT department.

¨      Business departments

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 work

Plate B

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 together.

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 together.

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 and mandatory.

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.

 

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Questions to ponder...

How does management view your Enterprise?

How do others view your Enterprise?

Do you believe that Business and IT are inextricably linked in complex ways?

If so, how does your Enterprise cope with that?
















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