I.T. and Business Strategy

Interesting discussion of conflicts between IT and business strategists by Christopher Koch at http://blogs.cio.com/node/310.  It’s kind of geeky, so be warned.  However, there was an excellent comment made by Robin Harris (StorageMojo.com):

"IT isn’t the business. If it were true that smart businesses operate within the confines of their architecture, we’d all be running batch jobs on mainframes and loving it.

Business is its own force, a dynamic produced by the interactions of millions of people with each other, technology, culture and, yes, information. The dynamic of business shapes us as much as, perhaps more than, we shape it. Of course process and routine are essential to the scaling of business. Yet they are only tools. Means, not ends. If you can’t master business, at least be a willing and thoughtful servant."

Young college grads have found a disconnect between classroom learning and their first business experience.  Economics and business professors showed how to make decisions, but the grads found the companies did not have a small fraction of the information that was needed.  The profs had pretty much ignored those issues.  So the lore of college economics was forgotten and the young grads learned the old-time rules of thumb.

Now, however, we have a great deal of the information we need for best-possible decisions.  But everyone has forgotten the lore; we’re still using the old rules of thumb.

Exercise for business:  make your next strategy meeting a "blank sheet" session.  What if we had no IT system, no existing business process, nothing but an idea of what our product or service is, and a blank sheet of paper.  How do we design a decision-making system that will help us identify markets, adapt to competitive changes, set prices, minimize production costs, etc.  Have a facilitator who continually reinforces the "blank sheet of paper" assumption, so that no one says, "but we can’t do that."