14 November 2012

BITA drives me bonkers

This Business IT Alignment thing drives me bonkers. Do we agree on what we mean by it? BITA is surely just a means to a goal. The goal is about getting value out of IT and BITA is ‘the degree to which IT as a business asset provides value’. I believe that it boils down to two questions:
1. Are we spending the right amount of time and money on IT (or should we be spending more or less on other business assets such as land and labour)?
2. Is the time and money spent on IT, well spent?
The first one is about decision-making, the second is about execution. Both depend on many factors for which people in both the business and IT are responsible.

Decision-making: We need the right business people taking well-informed decisions about critical IT domains in order to create an appropriate mix of value, costs and risks from a business perspective. And IT people have a responsibility to inform the business people in a way that they can apply the knowledge. I like the metaphor of power assisted steering here: the business steers and IT makes it easy to steer.

Execution: It’s all about competences and relationships. And I don’t think that competences are the bottleneck. Technical people (not only IT, just think about some medical specialists) are notoriously insensitive to human needs. And if there's no meaningful relationship, there's no trust. And if there's no trust and if you don't think that's your first priority, then you've lost the plot.

So invest in the relationship by showing genuine interest (and as a by-product, discovering what the business actually does instead of what you imagine they do or should be doing in an ideal world) and by demonstrating personal integrity (set realistic expectations and ensure that you meet them or managed them to avoid unwanted surprises), otherwise accept eternal frustration from being misunderstood and wallow in your victimhood. Steven Covey: seek first to understand, then to be understood. And if your relationship is really on the rocks, get a BITA marriage counselor. Or divorce and move on. The kids will understand. Really.

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