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Is the IT organization, as we know it, worth saving?

by Mark P. McDonald  |  December 4, 2012  |  3 Comments

A prior post introduced the idea that we need to ask the right questions about IT before we can consider how to lead and change IT.  This is the first in a series of questions posted each Friday in December.  Here is the list of questions:

  • December 7th: Is the IT organization, as we currently know it, worth saving? (This week’s question)
  • December 14Th: What are the reasons we need IT in the future?
  • December 21st: What are the issues that need to be addressed in creating the future?
  • December 28th:  Where do we, as technology professionals, need to go to realize our future?

The first question goes deep.  It is intended start a discussion about the question before we start to derive an answer.  This is not a reprise of the question – does IT matter?  A question that opened the floor to describe IT’s strategic relevance.  No I would rather push the envelope a bit harder and ask:

Is the IT organization, as we know it, worth saving?

 I am not sure it is.

Not sure in the sense that what we have now as IT, which has worked for more than 30 years, is what we need to have in the future.  IT was founded on the premise that it created value through technology implementation and operation.   IT was a specialization, a function, a team set apart.  I am not sure that is the right foundation going forward – it’s a question.

Considering today as if it is your first day on the job

It is easy to say that IT needs a re-boot, update or revised reason for being that updates IT roles, responsibilities, metrics, et al.; what if we were to agree that its time to walk out on what we know as IT and start fresh.

Ok so print out this post, or load it onto your tablet, grab your jacket and walk out of your building.  I mean it get outside your building.  I will wait a few minutes …

… A few minutes latter.

There you are out on the sidewalk or in your company’s parking lot.  You are on the outside.  I hope it is not raining or too cold.

Now give yourself a choice, do I walk back in or continue outside and head home?

If you decide to walk back in, then walk back in then consider it your first day on the job.

Imagine that you are brand new to the company and you have the ability-responsibility to change everything.  Everything

So we are back to our original question – is IT, as it currently exists, worth saving?

What do you see and think as you go into the building for the first day of the rest of your career?  Not what you would do, but what do you think before your act.


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Category: 2013  leadership  management  strategy  tough-questions  

Tags: 2013-planning  business-leadership  businesss-strategy  strategy-and-planning  technology-leadership  

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a Vice President and Fellow Emeritus in Gartner for General Managers Program.

Thoughts on Is the IT organization, as we know it, worth saving?

  1. Ken Williams says:

    While I was outside, I got an email which led me to my car where I did some work editing a presentation using my tablet (which was in my car). A colleague saw me in my car, as I was hitting ‘send’ and I waved them over. They sat on the passenger side. We had an impromptu meeting and checked several facts online during our discussion. We decided to drive to another work site, and I actually forgot about going back into the building. The building is just another place to work, no less or more than any other. Except maybe for the printer, which I use less often anyway.

  2. Mark P. McDonald says:


    I hear you about the notion of the building and that work does not happen in buildings. Its intended to be a metaphor for getting a fresh perspective and pair of eyes to look at the situation, in this case considering the nature of the IT organization. Welcome your thoughts on that.


  3. Tony Price (TonyAtHP) says:

    Mark—Your question series is sure to create an interesting discussion. I welcome this question, and want to turn back to your comment about IT creating value. As you say, IT was founded on the premise that it created value through technology implementation and operation. But is a reframing of the question, in order? Should we ask, How do we redefine the value that IT creates? Is it, as in days past, based on value created by technology implementation, or should we ratchet up our goals and insist that IT create vale through transformation. I define true transformation as the ability to not simply deliver the same thing faster, but actually deliver something you’re not already doing. This may help to keep IT more relevant and stop the questions about saving IT.
    Thanks for a great discussion starter.

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