2015 IT Strategy

As we explore the importance of strategy for CIOs, we previously blogged that strategy, as defined by Michael E. Porter and Jan Rivkin, s “Is not operational effectiveness”. While operations are necessary, they are not sufficient nor are they a strategy.  We agree. Further to that, we explored the importance of developing the IT strategy.   Now we want to move the conversation to “Can IT be innovative without a strategy?”

Practically every company is innovative, but few are systematic and reliable in their strategic processes.  For example, Jeff Bezos of Amazon has visions of unmanned aerial vehicles delivering packages to your door, it is many years off, not because the vehicles don’t exist, it’s because a variety of other applications still need to be developed. It’s innovative thought, but not necessarily a strategic one.

Almost all IT organizations will have breakthroughs happen despite a lack of strategy or process.  Success will happen because of individual acts of heroism, herculean lifting of form and process, and a serendipitous touch of good luck.  Unfortunately, this is not particularly strategic or repeatable. IT organizations without strategy will launch a myriad of programs to encourage innovation; assign various task forces, incentive awards, attend conferences and symposiums in search of new innovation and ways to implement technology solutions that deliver business outcomes.  These methods rarely produce results, instead they produce frustration as the ideas that are formulated are not necessarily the best efforts and don’t align with the business’ strategic priorities.

Most CIO’s will freely admit that their innovation engine doesn’t hum the way they would like it to. But turning sundry innovation efforts into a function that operates consistently and at scale feels like a monumental task. And in many cases it is, requiring new organizational structures, new hires, and substantial investment, as the “innovation factory” Procter & Gamble built in the early 2000s did.

Such flops by the best and brightest in their industry begs the question: How can we avoid a similar fate? A single query will not suffice. But answering five will give your organization a fighting chance.

Peter F. Drucker, the father of modern management, began with basics, asking every board: “What needs to be done?”; “Why are we here?” and “How can we do things better?” Drucker is forever famous for posing five simple questions that combat complex challenges.

What is the mission?

Who is the customer?

What does the customer value?

What are our results?

What is our plan?

Let’s adapt them without too much fanfare:

  1. Does the business really need what IT is offering? How do you know?
  2. Can your partners supply what you need in a cost-effective way?
  3. Is your organization prepared to make the offering? Are your technology and business teams working together on the plan?
  4. Can Vendors meet the business’s need in a simpler, cheaper way? Are you tracking them?
  5. What can go wrong? Is every voice in your organization being heard, including those you may not want to hear?


Next week, we’ll take a look at how to increase efficiency and productivity within the IT organization.

Have a question or a problem? Want to start building an IT strategy today? Email us: SBS.Research@lvs1.com