As I continue to get some thoughts together for the presentation I’m giving in May at the ITDF, and also with some of the recent conversations about start up mentality in existing organisations (see here and here), I’ve been wondering what would an IT department look like if you could start, today, with a completely blank sheet of paper?
Whilst this sort of “green field” thinking might not lead to a practical, implementable blue print of what an organisation could do, it might lead to some interesting ideas that could be implemented. Too often our future is constrained by the legacy of our past.
So this is something of a call for comments – if you could design a corporate IT function from scratch, what would it look like?
A good starting point, I believe, is to have a clear sense of purpose. There’s a great TED video by Simon Sinek that explores this by talking about the power of why? Sinek argues that thing that differentiates great organisations and great leaders from the norm is that they start with the “Why” – the reason, and from that derive the how and the what.
For me, the Why? of a brand new IT function would start something along the lines of “Helping our people and customers to get the most from the technology that they use.” It puts the focus on what I think the future of high-value IT management within organisations is – helping people to do stuff.
With that Why? in mind, “IT” would need a new name, and it would be much more focused on people rather than the technology itself. In an era of consumerised technology, helping people to make the right technology choices, and then helping them individually or in teams to be able to exploit that technology to best advantage seems to be of stronger value than trying to make complex decisions on behalf of others. The function becomes a coach and mentor.
I realise that this is maybe idealistic, but that’s kind of the point of this exercise.
So – what do you think? What would IT look like if you could start with a blank sheet of paper?