The Feld Framework For IT Leadership – The Four Planks in Strategy Phase (Part 3)
February 23, 2010

My previous post talked about the Five timed boxed phases. Here I will cover the 1st of the four planks for the strategy phase (i.e. WHY)?

WHY                                                                                                                                                              WHY do anything?

  • Provides platform durability
  • Enables organization to:
    • mobilize,
    • make investments,
    • set priorities,
    • take risks, and
    • sustain effort throughout the journey of transformation.
  • Business imperative articulated by the executive team.

The WHY to do anything is more important than ever, because to be successful the enterprise has to be agile and efficient in responding to the needs of the customers and compete globally. During the last 40 years, multiple innovation waves have created a global economic platform for business competition.

Today’s customers care only about how fast they can review a full suite of products and services, receive their choice and move on. They are not concerned about how an enterprise is organized internally, whether by products or P&L or services. Enterprises that fulfill the need of customer will survive and thrive in the 21st century. Such enterprises have to adhere to a hybrid model of being like both the hare and the tortoise. The organizations needs to emulate the hare by being agile to adapt to the global market fluctuations. At the same time emulate the tortoise by adopting characteristics such as discipline, operational excellence, standardization, simplification and automation.

High performance enterprises are simultaneously centralized for leveraging operational excellence and global consistency and decentralized for insightful decision-making, innovation, and speed. The culture of these enterprises has to be structured around both speed and leverage. IT is central to all enterprises and needs to be modeled around the above characteristics.

Another challenge is that the evolution of IT is taking place at a fast pace and business leaders have to adapt to those changes while making sure that they are not carried away by the latest fads. Many companies have demonstrated that they can be more efficient by owning fewer assets and renting or buying much of what they need. Thus a successful 21st century enterprise has to master a virtual ecosystem that is always on, integrated, and responsive to its customers. IT enables that system.

The investment in IT has to be done while keeping in mind the increasing speed of technological advances, the degree of complexity of technologies, and a customer centric view of business. The business leaders need to ask customer-centric questions and ask how do I gain market share and competitively grow? And how do I make money doing it? What investment gives cost and quality leverage, speed and flexibility in the global economy? The traditional question of whether the business run in a centralized or decentralized manner need not be the main question for the 21st century organization, for the answer no longer matters.

For enterprises to be successful in the 21st century and beyond, one needs to keep asking WHY do anything. If there is a compelling reason, then move to the planks of WHAT, HOW and WHO.

In my next post, I will write about the 2nd Plank WHAT will we do?
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