Break dancing, boom boxes, big hair. The 1980’s called. They want their stuff back.
Speaking of the 80’s, do you want to know a bigger mistake than the mullet hairstyle?
As soon as we started talking about aligning IT with the business, we actually furthered the divide. We continuously emphasized the disconnect and established it as the norm. Well, gag me with a spoon, dude. That’s just grody.
Words like stoked, veg out, and chill have been replaced with a new vocabulary including Netflixed, Amazoned and Ubered. Technology is defining whole new business models and disrupting the daylights out of old ones.
So, if I just stated how gnarly technology is today, then why question the significance of IT-business alignment? Don’t get me wrong. Alignment is important but it can no longer be the ultimate goal.
Does your CFO or CMO wig out about aligning Finance or Marketing with the business? Of course not. We need to embed the philosophy into our collective IT DNA that says "We ARE the business!" When IT organizations start to do that, they find their stock rising, moving higher up the value curve. Based on our latest research with top tier CIOs, we call this journey "Moving IT up the Maturity Curve."
The IT Maturity Curve
Today’s IT organization has to be comprised of Innovative Anticipators TM that don’t just partner with the business, but actually drive business opportunities.
And IT talent can no longer focus on just technical skills. Every IT team member needs to be business savvy, consultative, value driven and innovative.
Ouellette & Associates (O&A) developed the IT Maturity Curve based on a year-long study with Babson College. This, along with over 30 years of O&A experience transforming more than 3,500 IT organizations worldwide, tells us that there has never been a better time to be in the IT profession.
Stage 1 of the IT Maturity Curve is a basic supplier of IT services. These IT organizations generally don’t know about new business initiatives and are highly subject to outsourcing. Stage 2 are the order takers that are building efficiency and effectiveness. Stage 2 IT organizations do, eventually, get called when a major business initiative is underway and they are able to receive and process the order.
Stage 3 is where most IT teams aspired in the past. These are strategic partners and trusted advisors who are embedded into the business. They become part of the corporate fabric, no longer a piece of lint to be plucked off. They are agile, innovative and good at leading the business through change. As a CIO, we liked being at Stage 3 because we got invited to the first meeting when an opportunity arose.
Today’s leading CIOs are at Stage 4. They are the Innovative Anticipators TM that have built a culture of innovation throughout IT. These are the people that are calling the meeting to discuss business transformation. They are true business leaders.
Stage 4 IT organizations excel at all four stages, with an emphasis on continuous improvement. They never lose sight of service excellence, consulting skills or communicating the value of IT while they are leading the business to new opportunities. They build a solid foundation with a focus on IT culture and talent – and ensure they are good at every level.
Our own research with the CIOs of organizations that are high on the Maturity Curve sought to uncover the secret sauce of these high impact IT teams. We asked these CIOs, all separately and without a list to prompt them, what the core competencies are that they focus on today. What are they developing in their current workforce and what are they looking for when hiring new colleagues. Remarkably, 13 of the 14 competencies are “human factors”, not technical skills. The research underscores the long anticipated cultural revolution occurring in IT today.
Businesses, educational institutions and government agencies that achieve Stage 4 on the IT Maturity Curve are thought leaders that re-shape their industries, avoid disruption, and enjoy a measurable competitive advantage.
Where is your IT team today? What stage do you need IT to be in for you to successfully compete, differentiate and sustain growth? Do you want to be the disruptor or the disrupted?
As much as we want to accelerate the journey, we can't skip stages. And, there is always a risk of backsliding, so we need to keep our game strong at every stage.
We are fortunate to have an end-to-end view of how our companies operate. Using this unique seat at the table, and by studying the trends in our industry, we can look around the corner and "anticipate" (not align!!!) new opportunities for our companies. We can bring new innovation and thought leadership that drives new revenue streams and orchestrates a new customer experience. We can be the game changer. We can be the disruptor.
Obviously we have people in our organizations at each stage of the maturity curve journey. Savvy CIOs are focused on the percentages of people we have at each stage. They are executing new Talent/Workforce strategies that move more resources higher up the curve. For example, if you have 70% of your IT workforce in stages 1 and 2 and only 30% in stages 3 and 4, imagine the impact you could have on the business when you shift this from 70/30 to 60/40 to 50/50 or better!
So, how do I catch myself? If I find myself using the word "alignment" or anything related to the words "the business," stop right there!! IT is the business.
Changing the Conversation
O&A focuses on Developing the Human Side of Technology. We prepare every member of the IT team to take their game to the next level, becoming Strategic Partners and Innovative Anticipators TM. We are changing the conversation about IT strategy, culture and talent by employing the new "core" competencies and an attitude of "we ARE the business."
Today’s leading executives are leveraging The IT Maturity Curve to change the conversation about IT strategy, culture and talent. Don’t be bogus. Start your rad journey today! To get your copy of the 14 Core Competencies that set apart leading IT organizations, call O&A at (603) 623-7373 or email Tracy Dinu at TDinu@Ouellette-online.com.