Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Action, Reaction, or Discussion ?


The order was released to the vendor after multiple demonstrations and discussions with the business teams. Everyone agreed that any step is a step forward from their current reality; the vendor, IT team, and the users were excited with the new capability that was being attempted for the first time which would create a new way of working in the industry. The teams believed that all who mattered had been aligned with thorough groundwork done by the business and IT teams.

And then the CEO raised a few fundamental questions that setback the project to square one. Have you considered the buy-in across the layers ? Why will it create a better future for us when our competitors using the same solution have not benefited ? What are other industries doing and is there a learning that we can imbibe ? Who are on the team and who is not, are they the best we have ? Do you really know the reality on the ground ? The team intuitively knew the setback and irrelevance of the discussion at this stage. They had updated the CEO through the process, but no one raised the head to be shot !


The marketing team proudly presented to the Executive Committee their success from a cloud based solution that brought them kudos. They had won the Social Media Innovator award; everyone applauded the success. The CEO turned to the CIO and offered his compliments to the IT team too. The CIO was going from pink to crimson and blurted out that he was not even aware of the existence of the solution. The CMO undeterred mentioned that the solution was so simple that it did not need IT help.

Recovering the CIO ranted on the collapse of governance and shadow IT compromising the information assets of the company; customer data risk and reputation were at stake should anything fail at the un-assessed IT solution and vendor. The CIO gave instances from the past and the industry that highlighted the business risk in such situations.  He then skilfully turned the situation around with an agreement to review, recover and secure the customer data while also offering to extend the solution to enable better analytics.


Opening up of the market was an eventuality that everyone agreed to; everyone was discussing and debating the impact it would have on the industry at large and different segments of the market. Some companies made elaborate plans to leverage the new reality as and when it happens. The CIO benchmarked his company well locally and discovered an opportunity looking at upcoming trends in the mature markets. He presented the use case to the CEO and stakeholders who agreed with some caveat.

He pushed ahead with the business, the IT team and the vendor to deploy the solution seizing the early mover advantage and consolidated the market position with additional 5% market share over and above the already dominant position. The initiative was acknowledged by the CEO, the industry at large and strengthened the credibility of the CIO as a business leader rather than a technology innovator.

Where are you ?

Three narrations, each disjointed from each other, each happened to different people at different times, each created different impact to the business and for the CIO, each has learning for the business and the CIO. The stringing together of these portray how people behave to stimulus influencing the outcome and thereby the impact to the company at large. We all have gone through similar experiences and been in similar situations.  What would you do differently in situations given above ?

I hope that many will associate with the last one and a few with the first two situations. I believe that each situation challenges us and also gives us an opportunity to break the mould and do something differently. Next time take a step back and determine what step you would like to take. We all face adversity in our life; and so many times how we react to it will determine our destiny and outcome. Go ahead, exercise your choice.


  1. Very good blog posting, earlier I use to be IT team side, but since last year, now become Vendor side. And, the thoughts shows very real side concerning to the views of customer and business.

  2. Good read. Here is my take:
    "Discussion": An unattentive CEO could be a constrain that the team can not do anything about so no point fretting. If the team had answers to all the questions then it should have been replayed to the CEO because probably this was the time when he was actually paying attention. I am essentially alluding to the navigation skills of the CIO team and not losing the FOCUS of their goal.

    "Reaction": I do not think CMO did anything wrong. I believe the CIO was still graduating out of the old school (enterprise sales that goes to the CIO first before it goes to the LoB owners). Cloud-based/SaaS apps are meant to be consumed like the way the CMO did -- going straight to the LoB owners. Instead of the CMO or other LoB owners going to the CIO, the new reality is that the CIO now has to go to them to work out/educate the governance model that brings agility to the business and still the data/information security.

    "Action": Awesome. Time n again, people relate CIO to technology only and its OK but the CIO himself shouldnt start getting drowned in it because he actually is a business guy. CIOs have to advise (with an execution plan) the business leaders to proactively manage the change and encourage risk-taking without weakening the organization's core business interests & business model.