The “alignment” problem

There’s an interesting debate on Linked In about why we’re still talking about IT “alignment” after doing so for nearly 30 years, and like many of these conversations, there are questions about what exactly “alignment” means in this context.

Some definitions have been offered, but in my mind, it’s rather simple: alignment is using IT as a tool to solve a business problem, not an end in itself.
While that’s conceptually simple, many IT organizations don’t do it well. Look at all the people saying “Cloud is our technology strategy”. It’s like hiring an expensive builder to make you a custom home, who keeps saying “The Makita Sawzall 9000 is my strategy to give you a great home”. The focus is on the tool, not the outcome or value provided.

The IT departments that are seemingly naturally aligned are the ones where all the technology happens behind the scenes, and the CIO is called in to help solve a business problem. If your C-level peers run away when they see you approach, or start snoring in your meetings, you’re probably focusing on the tools rather than outcomes.

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