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Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

In a few months my husband and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, and for 18 of those years he’s bought me gifts that I’ve been thankful for and delighted with (well, except a single lapse known in the family as the pasta-maker Christmas incident). The first couple of years it was another story because he was spending a fair amount of money on jewelry I wasn’t crazy about, and as a result didn’t wear much (if ever).

Other than a big ol’ diamond solitaire, I think it’s tough for a man to buy a woman jewelry — or clothes for that matter — without some guidance. And therein lies the problem, because the guidance invariably comes from a shop clerk who is 1) trying to make a sale, 2) probably saying something along the lines of: “Believe me she’ll really love this; it’ll make her so happy”, and 3) trying to make a sale.

My husband and I solved the “she’ll really love this”/“well, actually not” issue when I told him that I really liked Tiffany’s various collections. So now when he is in a generous mood (or trying to make up for something), he sticks with Tiffany. He can shop with confidence, knowing that if he, say, buys me a pair of earrings to go with a necklace he bought the year before, I’m going to love them and therefore wear them.

In effect we created a jewelry architecture where a new piece fits neatly and seamlessly (and more happily) with everything else. This architecture also gained impetus a few years ago when I explained to my husband that I was in effect only caretaking any items from Tiffany since they will ultimately belong to our granddaughter. (Trust me. I didn’t think it would work, either, but it did.)

Now, here’s where I do my little dance, take my personal tale, and turn it on its head with an eye to some insight into the whole business-IT relationship. (I am so predictable.) First let’s recast the characters: my husband is now CEO/CFO/business unit manager; the shop clerk is a salesperson from an IT vendor; I’m the CIO; and Tiffany is enterprise architecture.

If the CIO gets the architecture right, it’s a blueprint for business agility. An enterprise architecture frames how IT vendors should approach the IT organization (and the business) and best of all, it keeps even the best-intentioned CEOs, CFOs and business unit managers from being hornswoggled into buying over-hyped solutions that are not going to work because nobody ever consulted IT.

Much like my jewelry architecture, this blueprint not only leads to wiser spending, it also makes you feel pretty good when that (metaphorical) light blue box lands on your desk.

Disclaimer: Linda Kennedy did not write this column with assistance from Tiffany & Co, but she would be willing to accept an appropriate token of thanks.

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