I got a bit frustrated yesterday. Three messages arrived from people promoting IT governance—heavily. The problem wasn't so much the topic per se, but rather the brow-beating that accompanied it. According to the messages, companies need IT governance, and it is important for CIOs to be appointed to boards. Really? The board's responsibility is to think about the company as a whole—to set strategy; to make decisions; and, to monitor strategy implementation to ensure goals are achieved. I couldn't find a credible explanation as to why IT governance was crucial, so decided to ask the question:
To my surprise, the question was retweeted to tens of thousands of others. Several influential people replied privately to say they were puzzled. @ToGovern replied publicly, as you can see. As I've thought about it some more, I've found myself wondering why people find it necessary to grab concepts, re-name them and re-apply them, often inappropriately. For example:
The board's interest in the first example is verification, and strategic decision–making in the second—both of which are important parts of the corporate governance remit. The information feeds to inform these matters are just that, information feeds. If IT professionals want boards to understand what they do; what they want to do; and, what the emerging trends are, they need to think and speak like boards do. Proposals need to be in the context of approved strategy. Project and management reports both need to demonstrate progress towards agreed corporate goals. Market reports needs to demonstrate relevance to, or impact on, the corporate strategy. If managers write their board reports and provide information in this way, and advisors provide sound advice, directors should have no problem asking appropriate questions in order to understand the issues. If this happens, technology-related topics can be handled by boards in the same way as any other major agenda item, can't they?
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.