As CIO, CTO, IT departments and vendors our goal is to make it easier for the organization we work with to reach their mission and vision.
Technology and technology discussions are only a means to get to that goal, yet often we (IT) create endless discussion about technicalities at all levels. We pretend that that is after all what our customers depend on: That things don’t break. Things not breaking is not good enough, not anymore.
I was challenged by the need to share and explain this goal with IT team members, management, vendors and partners. Organisations need to work towards the goal and the board and management needs to sponsor the right initiatives, hire the right people and vendors so that IT can become a strategic partner, not an operational technical resource.
In the hierarchy of (human) needs, Maslow explains that humans can only get to self-actualization if the needs below it are met first. Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs inspired me to create Bart’s hierarchy of IT needs.
The lower layers in the hierarchy of IT needs are needed to support the top of the triangle and we need to focus up. The more organizations simplify and standardize on the lower layers the more they can focus on what distinguishes them. This is no different that Mercedes and BMW using the same fuel pumps or tires whilst focusing on what sets them apart and fiercely competing in those areas. Small and big organizations alike will be more successful if they follow the same thinking.
Collaboration can take that a step further. In that case the organisations don’t just standardize internally but the also standardize by collaborating with others, even when they are competitors.
Companies A, B and C may strategically chose to share resources, approaches and solutions to enable more focus on the Mission, Vision. For many this is a difficult concept, but the successful path has been shown before, in healthcare for instance where more and more healthcare groups end up forming larger entities, allowing for more specialization in more fields. This can take many forms and shapes. The cloud providers (IAAS, PAAS, SAAS) meet of lot of those needs by providing the lower layers as a third party.
Some guiding principles:
- Collaborate with other organisations that work in the same field and share solutions
- Things that already work well on the lower layers do not get revisited unless there is a major reason to do so. Even when agreeing on the collaboration one does not need to force sharing till the specific situation/need demands it.
- When looking for a solution there should be dramatic improvements over what one already has.
- Simplicity is critically important in selecting a solution.