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The paradox of business change
To be valuable, IT change must be linked to business change. To be doable, it must be kept separate. Navigating this paradox requires education, awareness, respect, and a dose of suspicion.
Looking back at these newsletters over the past few months, I realise that I have been skirting around an important paradox.
On the one hand, I have been writing that all valuable IT change must be preceded by a requirement for business change, that IT change is intimately linked to business change.
On the other, I have been writing of the dangers of muddling IT and business change, of the need to clearly distinguish between problems that IT can solve, and problems that IT should keep out of.
I could weasel my way out with some carefully chosen words about how IT enables but can not lead business change. But this isn't a problem to be glossed over. There's a real paradox here, and we need to tease out the underlying problems.
I think there are two dangers we need to avoid with our IT activities:
These dangers are independent. Your IT can be both pointless and perilous at the same time. Indeed, as projects grow more perilous, any initial links between meaningful business change and IT break down. The IT becomes "strategic", an end in itself that has to be seen through for political reasons. Any value it could have brought is lost.
But because these problems are independent, it should be possible to make IT both valuable and safe. I think there are four main points: education, awareness, respect, and suspicion.
It's a tough paradox, and this isn't easy. But following these four points will help navigate the narrow channel between pointless and perilous IT.Next: Demand side management in IT
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