Large corporations are designed to work with sustaining technologies. They excel at knowing their market, staying close to their customers, and have a mechanism in place to develop within existing boundaries. Looking further in their IT department you experience the same. The IT organizational structure is a copy of the other departments and employees are hired, based on skills and demands from earlier days. The core technology reflects the IT possibilities from the growing period of the organizations when they tried to establish a sustainable market share. Adaption and changes took place, but on the outskirts of the IT infrastructure. Real upgrades were initiated only by means of necessity, for example, because a supplier ended his support.
The described situation applies to many companies I have seen the last 5 years. An IT department wants to work with new technology, but isn’t, in essence, innovative. The passion for technology within the IT teams is challenged by their boards on non-tech drivers. Executives are interested in what IT costs and how well it works, all in plain figures.
But what happens if the technology pace increases enormously, new possibilities are used by starters and competitors and new generations are used to work with the latest devices and apps. Your peers are moving complete datacentres to a service provider. Your trusted advisors speak about disrupt or be disrupted, cloud, SAAS, software defined and so on. You might get overburdened with an excessive number of requests and demands.
Now you must try capitalizing on the potential efficiencies, cost-savings AND answer to these new demands coming from executives (“let’s go to the cloud”), different business lines (“we want to be digital”) and from your own employees (“here is my code, deploy it; I don’t care how”). So, it is hard keeping pace in a changing digital world. How should you and your businesses transform to that continuously changing digital world? That is the hardest question IT managers all around the world nowadays need to answer, if they want to get out of the ‘cost centre’ management mechanism and provide the right IT service to the business lines.
Where to start? I have got inspired by Simon Sinek and started to ask the Why questions, to create a clear and authentic vision for IT at our customers. Why does your organization exist? Why do your business lines do the things they do? Why do you want or should you transform to a new architecture, platform, devices and so on? Why is IT an enabler for the line of business? In this creative process, you try to filter the right content for an IT vision. A vision that addresses to the core values of your company. Try to visualise the vision.
Why start with a vision? Very simple. A picture says more than a thousand words. It is hard to convince your C-level, colleagues and employees with words, thick reports, memos or PowerPoint presentations full of text. It works easier to inspire them with a motivating story containing your pictured vision, that addresses the core values and focusses on the added values of IT. The same audience is less interested in What you are changing (“we virtualize our network and make everything software defined”) or How you do this (“we start with designing a new cloud platform”). They want to know Why you do it (“we make IT simple and secure, your work will be fun and courageous”). Obviously, you also should be prepared for the How and What questions. But, like Simon Sinek dictates, it all starts with the Why.