The Five Traits of the Quantum IT Organization

These five traits are not about technology. They are about people, attitudes and relationships. The future belongs to IT leaders who understand this.

The Disciplined Organization

The disciplined organization is one that employs rigorous processes and management practices to ensure the consistent and efficient delivery of services. This is table stakes. This is simply doing what your customer expects–every day. Doing that, however, requires that a sense of rigor and discipline get ingrained into the culture. Being a disciplined organization is about doing your job, but it is also the foundation of trust on which everything else will get built.

The Transparent Organization

Most IT professionals are good with the first two traits. The traits make sense and there is little risk. Becoming a transparent organization is another matter. A transparent organization is one that unabashedly exposes its financial and operational performance to enable better business decisions. It is not about simply showing how the sausage is made. It is about giving the customer enough information and communicating in a way that together you can make a better decision. “The onus is on IT to stop speaking IT speak and to begin speaking business speak,” says Ashwin Rangan, CIO of Edwards Life Sciences. “My direct reports--none of them are technologists. They are relationship managers.” Being a transparent organization is fundamentally about openness and trust--and it is the starting point for establishing true intimacy with your customer.

The Intimate Organization

Intimacy is not a word that is often used in the world of IT, but it needs to be. Alignment is not enough. It implies two bodies moving independently, but trying to stay in sync. It just doesn’t work. The intimate organization is one that moves the relationship beyond requirements and SLAs--beyond the roles of the order giver and the order taker--to create a deep, business-centered relationship. It is about meeting the customer where they live and not expecting them to come to you. “You need to get to where the people are doing the work,” says Wray. “We need to go 80 percent their way and let them come 20 percent our way.” Call it the Intimacy Line--IT needs to forget 50/50, it is all about going 80 percent. But intimacy, according to Rangan, is also a two-way street. It requires a mutual trust and vulnerability. “When you're in an intimate relationship at the personal level, you agree to be in a mutually vulnerable relationship. That's a mind-bender for a lot of people. The mutual vulnerability defies definition. You have to be willing to let it all hang out.” It is only through intimacy, however, that IT can finally transcend the barriers that have held it back in the past and move into a full relationship with the customer.

The Dynamic Organization

Becoming a dynamic organization brings it all home for IT. It is the only trait that brings technology back into the mix. A dynamic organization is one with a highly scalable and adaptable architecture that enables the rapid provisioning of services to meet changing needs. It is about sustainability and adaptability. It offers freedom to your customers to react rapidly and seize opportunities as they present themselves. But it is more than mere technology--it is an attitude. It requires that you change the way IT looks at itself and the services it provides. “We are in an age where the tangible value of an IT asset is measured in months,” says Rangan. “If you take years to construct the asset when it has a useful life of months, it defeats the purpose. The whole point now is agility and nimbleness.” That is what it means to become a dynamic organization.


This article was originally published on 01-11-2013
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