Why will no one implement my IT Strategy?

I was talking to a friend who works in a large private sector organisation recently and he was moaning about how he couldn't get anyone to implement his IT Strategy. I asked him what the problem was. He said “...I have a vision for IT in the company that will add great value” after which he started to tell me about how the strategy would but in a flexible and agile framework to allow the creation of new business opportunities better, smarter and faster.

It all sounds good” I said “So how are you looking at putting this IT Strategy in place?”

He replied “Well we have written the IT Strategy and what the vision looks like now I just need people to invest in it and deliver it. But they don't seem to be interested”

What business benefits are you delivering as you start to put the IT Strategy in place?”, I asked.

Oh those come when we have but the IT Strategy in place” he replied

Hmm”, I said. “So you want people to invest in some IT that could give them benefits in the future? A platform for the future?”

Exactly” he replied confidently.

Well as you are not an IT company such as Microsoft or Apple it may be difficult to invest in IT for the sake of it” I said “I have adi fferent approach that may help you”

What's that” he replied curiously.

Having an IT Strategy / Vision is a good thing. However trying to implement it in isolation of the rest of your company is difficult. What you need to do is work with the rest of the your company to understand what their business visions and objectives are. From this you can then identify opportunities that will help them to deliver their objectives but also help you to start to slowly build you IT Strategy and platform of the future. So over time you will start to deliver your IT Strategy but will also be delivering value to your company”

That sounds like a plan”, he replied, “but it feels hard and slow”

Delivering strategy is hard. Coming up with the vision is the easy bit. Working out how, what and when to deliver it is the hard bit” I replied “It is also not slow as you are delivering value across your company both from an IT and non-IT point of view. So it is a win win for everyone”

It's worth a try” he said as he gazed at the ceiling thinking of how to start to make this happen.

This is one of the reasons why IT Strategy never gets implemented and it ends up as a dusty document on a shelf somewhere. The IT department come up with these grand visions but then don't do the hard graft of working with the rest of the organisation to understand and identify opportunities to deliver business objectives whilst starting to delivery parts of the IT strategy.

Pinyin - A form of Enterprise Architecture

I am learning Mandarin with my daughter at the moment. Mainly to keep one step ahead of her so that I can help her with her homework. In order for non-Chinese natives to understand the Mandarin language, help with input of Mandarin into Computers a romanization of the Chinese language is used called pinyin

For someone who speaks English pinyin can seem a strange translating language. The reason is that the pronunciation of pinyin is not a one to one translation to English pronunciation. Let me explain.

The character for water in Mandarin is

The pinyin for water is shuĭ

In English this is pronounced shway with the “way” pronounced with a tone that goes down and then up. Click here to here what it sounds like

So what has all this got to do with IT you may say? Well at the weekend I was reading an interesting blog from Peter Kretzman entitled Complexity Isn't Simple: multiple causes of IT failure. There where some interesting debates in the comments regarding requirements analysis. As an aside my view on this is that it is the complexity of requirements and number of requirements that are a major factor in IT failure. Peter mentions how the telephone has evolved over the years from what it was in the 1980's to what it is now. Think the iPhone or Android phone today comapred to what you had in the 1990's. What would have happened if organizations had tried to make the iPhone in the 1990's? Probably a disaster. Anyone remember trying to get e-readers in the 1980's? Remember the Newton? The mobile phone of today has built up over time. At each stage adding a little bit more value. Making sure that additions work and integrate. This is what organizations should do with new ideas. Start small and then build up over time. At each stage adding a little bit more value. Rather than trying to do it all at once. Something that can help you in this endeavour is a set of guiding principles to ensure new bits fit and help the whole. Maybe an Enterprise Architecture? But that is another story.

Back to pinyin. Whilst reading this I thought about how we use Enterprise Architecture to not only articulate a single version of the truth for an organizations future state but also as a means of ensuring that all parts of an organisation speak a common language and understand each other. It is the pinyin of business.

So if Mandarin is the language of the IT organisation. Lots of symbols, which are meaningless to the rest of the organisation. Then if all those who use speak in romanization languages are the non-IT departments of an organisation how do they communicate with each other? Pinyin of course. Mandarin (IT) speakers understand it and are taught it. Non-mandarin (non-IT) speakers can relate it to their language and understand it also. Therefore pinyin is a form of Enterprise Architecture.

Which all relates to some thinking that I have held true for sometime. Enterprise Architecture is nothing new. It is an approach and a way of doing things. It is more important to use the principles and approaches that Enterprise Architecture provides and advocates rather than going around spouting we must do Enterprise Architecture, we need an Enterprise Architecture. Just do the right think and call it whatever is meaningful to your organisation. Find what it's pinyin translation is.