Organizations are complex making it difficult to assign specific actions to specific results. In an environment of ambiguity executives and managers fall back in financials and assigning credit to the people closest to observable success. They cannot go deeper because as soon as they move away from the immediate source it becomes difficult to separate those who claim success and those who make a real contribution.
Creating causality between an action or set of actions comes less from detailed modeling if processes and assigning responsibilities and weights. Causality builds from continually keeping the business reason or purpose out in front and using it as a guide to operations and transformation. Re-imagining IT requires addressing the causality issue as its fundamental to benefits realization, demonstrating IT’s value and justifying future investments and value from information and technology.
Keeping the business reason at the front and center leaves no doubt about what you are focusing on or why you are doing something.
Here are a few thoughts:
a. Define the business reason clearly and using facts that establish the business basis in exact and unambiguous terms.
b. Use these details through the project as the guiding design principles, the primary user acceptance criteria and the rational for the project.
c. Being obstinate in getting the answer to the fundamental questions of business change including: What is the business issue? When does it happen? How often? To whom? What is the current cost of addressing the issue? What aspects can be addressed via technology and which require other changes?
d. Using the answers to the questions above as the driving force for determining requirements, scope, design efficacy, development completion.
Now all of this sounds like common sense to the extent that it’s common practice but frankly it’s not. Executives and managers in many organizations shy away from trying to create causality because that creates accountability for results.
In the face of uncertainty, which is particularly prevalent in the area of IT, managers fall back to the only think that they can control which is the budget/cost/spend.
After all, I may not be able to prove that I have created value, but I can prove that I did not waste the organization’s money. That is the weakest form of causality and without change it will remain the only form of causality we have.