Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Perfect IT Department

We spend a lot of time developing IT strategies. A typical strategy starts with a mission, vision, and purpose. I've read several IT strategic plans recently and I have come to the conclusion that organizations have become pretty good at developing these documents. Execution of the plan is tricky, but successful implementation is also becoming a more commonplace skill.

What seems to be missing from these plans is the opportunity to dream. We have become quite good at mechanically developing goals and objectives, then putting in place the processes to get them done. Results are delivered on time, on budget, and in scope. What falls through the cracks is creativity. Creativity is the spark that ignites innovation.

Sometimes we need to dream.

I recently read the actual text of one of my favourite speeches of all time. It was an eye-opener because the passion of the speaker seemed to overwhelm the actual written word. But the text is just as powerful as the delivery. A key line of the speech:
"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight;"
I don't have Martin Luther King's eloquence, but his idea is powerful. Let us dream first. The reality and implementation follow the dream. If we were to dream about the perfect IT department, what would it look like? Imagine an IT strategy where contributors were asked to close their eyes and dream of the perfect IT department. What if we could simply imagine what we want to be when we grow up?

Here's my dream IT department ...
Under ideal circumstances, the information technology department is seamlessly integrated into all processes at the organization. The department provides secure and reliable access anywhere, anytime to dependable high performance information technology services. The people who provide the service are trusted and inspire confidence in the technologies they deliver. The department generates innovative ideas supporting the purpose and mission of the organization. Similarly, continuous process improvement ideas are sourced from the information technology department in a collaborative manner.  New projects are delivered within promised timeframes and budgets. Ongoing services meet or exceed customer expectations. People in the information technology department enjoy their work and their customers enjoy working with them. The culture of the department embraces an outstanding client-centric service ethic. Clients of the department embrace technology and enthusiastically work with the department to build a better future for customers and the organization.
Would not the dream create a better mission, vision, and purpose? Once you have the dream, you have the fuel to inspire an exciting strategy. A strategy where IT really can change your world. A strategy where you can make the rough technology plain and the crooked systems straight.



  1. We lost much of our spark around the same time we started to answer the question "what next" with "package". I'm not saying there's anything wrong with packages per se, but the joy of creation disappears about the same time bespoke code for the enterprise was depreciated as a way to solve a problem.

    When the post-1999 budget crunches and years of compliance implementations followed, the dream definitely died.

    1. I suspect there are other ways to re-ignite the spark, but it takes a lot more effort!

      I'm also surprised to see the re-birth of software development in IT organizations. We're certainly nowhere near a renaissance of new app creation in IT, but the pendulum has begun to swing back towards custom development of organization-unique applications - albeit on a small scale.


  2. Thank you mark for sharing you "Dream IT Department" statement. It is definitely an aspirational goal that will inspire all areas of the IT department. IT is lofty enough to provide vision and yet not so "out there" that will be perceived as unrealistic.
    BJ Jensen

  3. Just a side note about Dr. King's quote - it's Isaiah 40:4. He may not have written that poetry, but he did effectively leverage it to change his cultural paradigm. (-:

    1. Thanks! I didn't realize the quote was from Isaiah, but that makes sense given the context and his background.