August 14, 2012, 10:43 AM — This article is the second in a series called The 12 Principles of Agile IT Governance. The series is designed to help board members and senior managers leverage technology excellence as a competitive advantage. Each article discusses a key principle of agile IT governance and presents tactical measures that allow for deployment of that principle.
The ability to change is fundamental to achieving and sustaining a competitive advantage. However, change can be expensive in more ways than one, especially for technologists and the business units that invest in change. Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer articulated this sentiment when he said, "When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and you argue about what to do about it only after you have had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb."
While the first key to agile IT governance is a focus on stakeholder satisfaction, the second key is the ability to harness change for competitive advantage. This can be a complex challenge for CIOs who have their hands full keeping legacy environments operational and managing constant pressure on their budgets while facing expectations to deliver innovation.
However, harnessing change can be tactically achieved by taking three steps:.
Make small investments in innovative skunkworks projects that target one tactical and one strategic business metric such as EBITDA.
Change IT strategy to align with changes in business strategy.
Build a culture that embraces change.
Step 1: Make Small Investments in Innovative Skunkworks Projects
With computing performance doubling every 18 to 24 months, CIOs have a lot of new technologies to choose from, and it can make agile IT governance difficult. Incumbent vendors are trying to sell them on new versions of existing products, while new vendors are trying to earn their spot on the procurement rung. Often, these new vendors are referred by powerful business unit leaders touting a powerfully perceived business benefit, so the CIO has little choice but to give them due consideration.