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Re: Alignment

Re: Alignment

Do you know where the business is?

On September 7, 1974 my second son was born. I'd wanted two children, so that particular project had been brought in on time and on budget. Now it was time to cement my 21-year strategic plan. Over the next month I bought every toy, bit of sports gear, musical instrument, book, record (yes, they were still records then), movie ticket, piece of clothing, shoes, socks and underwear they would ever need. I enrolled them in every school and university they would attend. I signed them up for yearly summer camp, boy scouts, soccer, and all their music and swimming lessons. I then selected their friends from toddler to teen.

On October 12, I proudly declared that I had aligned mum with the children.

Well, of course I didn't.

Trying to predict and purchase what a child needs or wants a mere six months down the road is nigh on impossible. The idea of doing it at birth for their entire childhood is ludicrous. Children grow, embrace the new, insist you buy it and then cast it aside, change their minds about what they want to do and in general drive you crazy.

Hey, doesn't that sound just like the business? Which conveniently leads me to my topic du jour: IT-business alignment. I've recently compiled the results of this year's State of the CIO survey, and once again IT-business alignment tops the charts of CIO challenges. It's also the perennial victim of finger-pointing by observers, who seem to feel that its continued appearance is one of the indicators that CIOs are marginalized because they still don't get it.

Well, of course they get it.

CIOs get that you can't go out today and just buy in one fell swoop everything the business needs to function two, five, 10 years down the road. They get that business is dynamic, and that they must respond to its changing nature. Just like I couldn't predict my children's life preferences at birth.

If you're a CIO reading this, then I'm pretty much preaching to the choir which isn't my intention. This message here isn't aimed at you; it's meant for the IT department's detractors who regularly point to the "aligning IT to the business challenge" as an indicator of IT's lack of engagement with the business. The ongoing challenge of aligning IT to the business is in fact an indicator that the CIO and IT department are in fact the most agile and adaptable BU in an organization. They have to be quick-thinking and fleet of foot to keep up with the dynamics of business growth and its demands.

It's time to stop viewing the challenge of IT-business alignment through a glass darkly. The IT-business alignment glass is not half empty, it just needs regular topping up.

After all, in 1974 I would put together a record collection with selections from Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot and Harry Chapin. I never would have predicted Kurt Cobain, who was only seven.

And I can guarantee that when they were 15 my children would have put themselves up for adoption if they'd been saddled with my 1974 record collection.

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