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IT Value and Delusions of Effectiveness

by Mike Rollings  |  November 15, 2010  |  1 Comment

Too many times I speak with people in organizations who proudly state that they know and achieve their priorities.  What once was a hidden list of projects is now given visibility.  They consolidate their project list , they sort on value of each business division, and manage resources (e.g. funding, people) more effectively than before.

Then comes the hallucinogenic part of the discussion… “we do not do measurement to understand what we achieve”, “once the project gets funding we never kill them, we only readjust what gets done”, “we worry about time and budget and cut functionality”, “we really do not understand dependencies until we start development”.  Pardon me, I think somebody slipped you something in your morning coffee.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that they feel they are doing better, and in many ways they are improving.  But we shouldn’t be comfortable with just removing pain.  We should be treating the patient’s disease.  The disease is not an IT disease, it is a business value disease and the whole organization has contracted it.  This disease is associated with expectations and business outcomes.

Yes, not knowing what is going on is painful.  Yes, it is better to get your arms around what is being done. No, treating what hurts is not sufficient to address the bigger picture problem that is totally missed — do you know what will provide value and do you achieve it?  If your organization does not measure the value received and compare it against expected results you really cannot know the value of IT.

Is your organizations being delusional?  Does your organization really know the value it receives from IT?

  • Do you know the business outcome you want to achieve?  Why do you want to achieve it (what do we expect to happen)?
  • Do you know what must change to achieve it?  Be sure to separate the wheat from the chaff and identify the core that must be achieved to enable the outcome.  How do we achieve it?
  • Do you know when conditions and expectations have changed causing a deterioration of the original value expectations?  Do you kill projects if it is no longer achievable or does not meet minimum expectations?
  • Do you track the achievement of business outcomes?  Do you know if you delivered all the elements of change you set out to deliver?  Do you frown on hollow victories  (i.e. celebrate an on-time delivery and budget target achievement, but cut expectations to get there)?

If you can’t answer the questions affirmatively you may be in denial (and denial is not a river in Africa).

Category: altered-states  human-behavior  it-governance  management  

Tags: business-outcome-mindset  it-delivery  value  

Mike Rollings
Research VP
5 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Mike Rollings is VP of Gartner Research within the Professional Effectiveness team. His research discusses what IT professionals need to know about transformation, innovation, human behavior, contextual strategy, collaborative organizational change, communication and influence, and cross-discipline effectiveness . His research can be read by IT professionals with access to Gartner for Technical Professionals (GTP) research. Read Full Bio

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