I just came across Steve Jones’ post, Nodding dog alignment – the perils of aligning to people not business, in which he points out the sad reality that many IT organisations which believe they are aligned with the business aren’t actually delivering value. Why? Because they are aligning with the wrong things. Instead of focusing on business goals they focus on the individuals who have those goals with the result that:

the IT department just turns into a nodding dog and says yes to all requests made by anyone who can claim to be a business person. This is what leads to hideously configured packages because “the business said so” and to a fragmented IT estate and ever increasing IT spend for ever decreasing business value.

This issue is something that came out strongly in the research for our book (the perfect Christmas gift 😉 )and is reflected in two of our principles for effective IT-business alignment.

First, the IT organisation must establish a peer relationship with the business, rather than a supplier-customer relationship which Steve flags. It’s about shared accountability and responsibility and, in much the same way as a P2P network, involves dynamic interactions controlled through a set of protocols (or governance policies and procedures) in accordance with objectives and constraints (business goals, budgets, people in the IT-business alignment case; file downloads, network bandwidth and latency in the P2P case).

Second, it’s not about working on the basis of “he who shouts loudest”. Rather it’s about working towards a set of goals and objectives that are coordinated and agreed by the combined business and IT team.

As Steve so aptly puts it:

Business alignment isn’t about people alignment.

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