Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How the Mighty Fall

Mark McDonald, in his article How CIOs can sense if their companies are getting ready to fall, draws on Jim Collins book, How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, to provide some useful insight into how five stages of company decline manifests in leadership attitude and use of IT.

Collins' five stages of decline are:
  1. Hubris Born of Success.
  2. Undisciplined Pursuit of More.
  3. Denial of Risk and Peril.
  4. Grasping for Salvation.
  5. Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death.
McDonald maps these to five stages for IT:
  1. A breakdown of investment and technology management disciplines.
  2. Multiple and competing business unit initiatives pursuing more IT.
  3. IT budgets increase focus on current operations as support requirements consume resources. Executives begin to doubt the ‘value of IT’ as they challenge the need for costs that seem to be rising faster than revenues.
  4. Hope that a single integrated application system and infrastructure will erase systemic weaknesses. The silver bullet solution mobilizes IT resources and gives IT an apparent new relevance coming from the prior stage.
  5. Good talent moves on and there are challenges attracting and retaining market leading talent – leading to reduced expectations for IT.
According to one reviewer of Collins' book, the book does a particularly good job of describing dysfunctional leadership behaviors of companies in decline.

I think McDonald does a good job describing the stages of dysfunctional leadership in the use of IT.
"Senior management teams often question the value they get for their IT investments....which sustain - but do not improve - [business] performance. Among the many knee jerk management team responses to these frustrations, firing the CIO and outsourcing all of IT have emerged as perennial favourites. The problem with these two solutions is that, for most enterprises, they do not attack the cause of the problem - poorly designed IT governance, often with a corresponding lack of business leadership participation in the key IT decisions...If IT is not generating value, senior management should first examine its IT governance practices - who makes decisions and how the decision makers are accountable." - Weill & Ross, MIT Sloan School of Management, in their book "IT Governance", p147.

1 comment:

Anthony Draffin said...

A great post, I really like it and it's a great lesson to us all.