Technology alignment with the business requires IT to live in a spirit of continuous improvement. Any slip will diminish the trust, credibility, and respect we earned and enabled alignment in the first place.
The Spirit of Continuous Improvement
Previous articles explained how IT doesn’t just suddenly align with the rest of the business. Rather, IT must demonstrate the value it creates and earn the trust, credibility, and respect from the business. That results in IT being invited to do more strategic work and leads to full alignment.
The emphasis has been on the IT Value Journey™ and IT Value Creation Process™ which enable us to measure and prove the value created by IT. As long as that value continues to increase, IT maintains trust, credibility, and respect. That means the IT culture must be built around a spirit of continuous improvement.
We discussed some of the key metrics, like improving customer satisfaction while decreasing the cost of delivering service. In the Maintain state of the IT Value Journey, we may be able to make huge leaps in that metric. Maybe we move from 50% satisfaction to 65% in the first year. But what happens when we reach 90% satisfaction? 94%? Or more? IT becomes increasingly difficult to improve. But we must improve. Even if it’s just a half of a percentage point. Or a quarter.
Why is continuous improvement so important?
As a CIO, COO, CEO, and consultant, I’ve witnessed numerous IT downfalls, including some of my own. I’ve seen CIOs leading businesses into bold new revenue streams only to lose the appeal of the rest of the business. I’ve seen IT organizations navigate to the top of the IT Value Journey only to slip out of the Transform state and back to the Enhance state.
The common denominator in each of these downfalls was the absence of continuous improvement. Sometimes it was just that IT stopped sharing the metrics. Many times, IT created such emphasis on transformation that they lost sight of the fundamentals and allowed operational excellence to slip.
When we suddenly experience an increase in downtime, or the time to resolve support tickets slips, or the cost to deliver software features creeps up, the rest of the business starts to lose confidence in IT.
Two things happen when the CIO (and CEO) keeps IT focused on continuous improvement. First, each IT team member sees the improvement, takes pride in their achievements, and continues to pursue excellence. Second, the rest of the business sees the continuously improving service, and the metrics that go with it. They also see the pride displayed by IT. Both of those help us maintain the trust, credibility, and respect.
IT must live in a spirit of continuous improvement to maintain trust, credibility, and respect from the rest of the business. That allows us to operate at a highly strategic level and deliver maximum value for the business.
We maintain continuous improvement by focusing on the IT Value Journey and the IT Value Creation Process. That builds pride in the IT organization and drives our team to always pursue excellence.
When we ignore continuous improvement, our service level slips, costs increase, and we lose our strategic standing.
It’s up to the CIO and the IT Leadership Team to challenge IT with aggressive, but attainable, goals. And we must celebrate achievements to keep the spirit of continuous improvement – and the corresponding pride and pursuit of excellence – alive.
We purposefully keep these articles brief and aim to provide high level guidance and trigger ideas. As always, if you want more information or don’t want to wait for the upcoming articles, email Emily Ford at Emily@WolffStrategy.com and she’ll set up a complimentary 30-minute consultation with me.
We will not publish an article next week and look forward to sharing insights in 2022.
Larry Wolff is the founder & CEO of Wolff Strategy Partners, a boutique consulting firm specializing in Enterprise Strategy Management, Digital Transformation, IT Leadership, and Executive Coaching. Larry has served as CEO, COO, CIO, Chief Digital Officer, and management consultant for public, private, international, and emerging growth companies. His specialties include corporate and IT strategic planning, technology led business transformation, business and IT turnarounds, merger integration and large-scale project rescues. His methodologies span industries and scale to companies of all sizes.
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