Run the Business, Change the Business
What do you notice about Strategy in the ‘temple’ diagram opposite?
Well done if you noticed it’s over-arching and spans all three pillars. That’s to remind us that every activity that takes place must be in support of the business strategy. Yes, every activity!
How many of the folk on your team could clearly state how they help the organisation meet its goals? Don’t ask them yourself, get an outsider to do it.
The apocryphal story of the janitor sweeping the floor, when asked his role in NASA, replies “I’m helping us get to the moon by keeping the floor clean” is not held-up as an indictment of cleaners everywhere else, but an example of a goal and a strategy that has been thoroughly communicated.
Strategy Should be Communicated Clearly and Frequently
The best leaders make it easy for the people around them to succeed. They explain what they want, how they expect to achieve it and provide on-going feedback on the progress being made. The communications and actions of the leadership sets the tone and values of the entire organisation.
It is easy to see the symptoms of goals that keep changing or are ambiguous. Like a rudderless-ship, teams get blown around by the prevailing winds of change and pulled in different directions by the strong currents of stakeholder pressure.
Strategy is Fluid
Whereas goals remain relatively fixed, the plan for getting there has to be updated regularly as new information arrives. The people best positioned to inform strategy are those actively in pursuit of reaching the goal, so it is important that strategists and implementers update each other periodically.
Even better is when they are the same people.
Governance & Information Management
If “information is power”, how can an organisation stay in control of a burgeoning quantity of data: documentation, specifications, emails, customer requests and feedback? How should its collected wisdom be organised and made available? And to whom? And for how long?
Good governance is developed over time and with a light touch.
With stricter compliance covering international organisations, Sarbanes–Oxley legislation, and increasing freedom of information standards, information management requirements have changed radically. From a priority of ‘nice to have’, the 21st century need to ‘comply or face heavy penalties’ has led to the purchase of content platforms such as Microsoft’s massively powerful SharePoint.
Today’s Quick Fix is tomorrow’s Legacy Problem
As an example, SharePoint, when implemented properly, is a workflow engine that helps departments automate their business processes; decision-makers gain powerful insights based on relevant and accurate metrics, and organisations protect and exploit their intellectual property – their knowledge.
But without an Information Architecture (IA) and a taxonomy that makes sense for the organisation, SharePoint is not much better than a shared network drive. Speak to users and many would prefer to use a shared drive instead, because it is simpler for them. It’s something that has to be developed incrementally and this requires informed leadership.
Strategy, Governance and Information Architecture References
COBIT 5 is a governance and management framework for enterprise IT.
ITIL is a widely-used approach for IT service management.
TOGAF is an enterprise architecture (EA) framework that includes a methodology for developing an information architecture (IA).