In case any of us doubted it, our frustrations with IT — and IT's frustrations with the business — are alive and well. We recently posted a slideshow, 8 Things Executives Hate About I.T. based on the core principles in my book. The intent of all of this is, as the book's subtitle reiterates, "to move beyond the frustrations and form a new partnership with IT. But clearly, there's still a lot of animosity between the two camps. Here's a sampling of the reactions the slideshow elicited:
"One thing executives hate about IT: We are not magical computer wizards that can do things instantly. Maybe if executives would bother learning how technology works they wouldn't be so frustrated with it."
"Of course IT is invisible when everything's going right! That's the whole damn point! Do you hate doctors because you only ever see them when you're sick and miserable?"
"Executives never have good news. They never come and say that there's unexpected room in the budget, or that there's an additional bonus for a well-kept network, or they just wanted to thank us for all the help we've been giving. We only hear something from executives when they want something."
What concerns me about these comments is that they transfer the hate from the systems that create frustration (where it belongs) to the people who manage and use the systems (where it decidedly does not belong.) The core issue remains: IT can be extremely frustrating, for both the people in the IT group and the business leaders interacting with them. IT leaders hate the fact that no matter what they deliver, it's not enough. They hate the fact that demand far outstrips available resources and that business leaders largely believe that IT is something that is done to them rather than through them. That doesn't mean they hate the people with those wrongheaded beliefs. And the business leaders hate that IT costs too much and delivers too little, too late. They hate the fact that they don't understand enough about IT to directly influence what IT does and how it gets done. That doesn't mean they hate the people trying to help them understand IT.
The intent of the book, and this ongoing diaglogue, is to improve the effectiveness of the current IT system by educating business leaders on how to partner with IT. The book does so by examining each of the "hates" and resolving the frustrations by outlining key leadership principles and respective business and IT leader accountabilities. Business and IT leaders articulate the frustrations from their own unique vantage points. Regardless of the words that they use, the frustrations are rooted in the common struggle of collaborating across functional specialties to apply powerful, yet complex, technology in a way that serves the interests of the enterprise and the business units and individuals within. (Read the original, 8 Things We Hate About IT post here.)
Initially, I was concerned about putting "hate" in the title of my book. The reality though, is that the hate exists, and we need to find a way to work better together to overcome it. The opportunity, for IT and business leaders alike, is to better understand the needs of the other and create a partnership that is much more fruitful and far less frustrating. It's time to end the hate.