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Strategic Focus is a Real-Time Process

by Scot Herrick on December 13th, 2006

Have you noticed a heightened interest in business being compared to the military? Some pundits and executives offer implementation of strategies using military methodology, most famously at Home Depot (where being bought by another company is the current rumor).

Others use military to develop strategy with all of the associated “enemy” and “territory” jargon.

Michael Hugos over at Doing Business in Real Time writes of a fighter pilot named John Boyd and how he developed the principles of strategic focus (my definition: implementing strategy in a changing environment) that can be used for business.

There are four principles, which Michael applies to CIO’s (the blog is, after all, part of the CIO Magazine!):

Observe: collecting and communicating information about the environment. The IT environment.

Orient: Analyze the information in the “observe” environment and create a picture, or trending, of the information observed.

Decide: “investigate different possible responses to threats and opportunities and create and evaluate plans for implementing the selected responses.”

Act: improve an existing process or create a new process based upon the decision.

As in all models, this is a perspective that is useful in explaining what needs to be done and the actions to be taken.

Following this methodology, in my opinion, causes some big problems experienced by IT departments in companies today — IT as a cost center and not a value to the company.

If you analyze the four steps above, the key missing ingredient is the CIO understanding the priorities and politics of the very revenue generating businesses they are supposed to serve. Its great to know your systems availability, up time, connectivity, and scorecards. But it means nothing if one does not understand what those systems are supposed to be doing to help the business generate revenue and control costs in order to make a profit.

Unless businesses understand what IT can do to enable their business goals and IT implements applications and systems that make it easy for the business to do so, we’ll all have air conditioned black boxes in the back not reaching their potential.

IT has been described as an “immature” industry. Understanding how IT’s software can help the business they serve make money and control costs will go a long way in getting IT to grow up.

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POSTED IN: Cube life, Project Management, Software tips, Staying Sane, Strategy, Survival Skills, Workplace Wellness

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