Selling an IT Strategy

It was hardly a new idea. The concept of “the balanced scorecard” had been around since Robert Kaplan and David Norton first wrote about it in the Harvard Business Review back in 1992. And the duo’s follow-up book, The Strategy-Focused Organization, had been on the shelves since 2000. It was a well-known management concept that showed companies how to measure performance by mapping every activity to a single, overarching strategic vision. It introduced the now overused buzzwords “alignment,” “key performance indicators” and “digital dashboards” to a whole generation of business leaders. And it had long since been in vogue.

But none of that mattered to Ed Meehan, vice president of operations at Lockheed Martin Enterprise Information Systems. Meehan had other things on his mind during the 1990s, like the very tactical integration of the hundreds of systems from the famous 1995 Lockheed and Martin Marietta “merger of equals,” the megadeal that formed what is today a $40 billion defense contracting behemoth. He didn’t have time to worry about strategy. And he certainly didn’t have time to read business books. He barely had time to breathe. But after his colleagues’ countless attempts to persuade him to read The Strategy-Focused Organization, Meehan finally found some time in 2004 to crack the cover. It was like a bolt from the blue.

“I was on a long flight to Arizona and finally had a chance to read the book, and the lightbulb went off,” recalls Meehan. “It just made a lot of sense to me.”

What struck Meehan hardest was not so much the concept of focusing on strategy, but the fact that Lockheed Martin’s information technology division—a 4,000-person organization known as Enterprise Information Systems that services the company’s 140,000 full-time employees—had neither strategy nor focus. EIS had been in full-on tactical mode for nearly 10 years, feverishly integrating and consolidating systems since the merger. During that time Meehan and his staff had consolidated 75 databases into one, and 25 e-mail systems into one. But by 2004, that work was complete, and they were no longer sure what to focus on. “It was ‘Been there, done that, saved $2 billion … now what?'” Meehan says.

The “now what” Meehan was looking for was a strategy. And to have a strategy, you need a goal. But what kind of goal should an internal IT department develop to make it more strategic within the overall company? Like most IT organizations, EIS doesn’t have typical measures of profit and loss, so it can’t follow a classic business strategy. In fact, to most in the greater Lockheed Martin organization, IT was seen purely as a cost center: As long as the proverbial lights stayed on, EIS was doing a good job.

So when Meehan and his crew finally came up for air after years of consolidation work, they were faced with three tremendous challenges: identify their new goal, define a strategy to attain that goal and sell that vision to an IT organization that had no concept of strategy. Piece of cake.

CIO Insight Staff
CIO Insight Staff
CIO Insight offers thought leadership and best practices in the IT security and management industry while providing expert recommendations on software solutions for IT leaders. It is the trusted resource for security professionals who need network monitoring technology and solutions to maintain regulatory compliance for their teams and organizations.

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