September 13, 2005
I just came across an interesting article by Steve Andriole, a professor at Villanova. In it, he talks about an experience where he presented his Top 10 CIO objectives to his then-CEO. The CEO cancelled the meeting, and told him to come back when he narrowed it down to his Top 3. Ten items were too many, he said. As in the movie “Amadeus”, the symphony can have “too many notes” for the Emperor’s ears.
With that, Steve came back with these three priorities: 1) Get the overall technology investment strategy right. 2) Get the infrastructure right, not just in the short-term, but longer-term. 3) Get the people right. Do we have the right people — given the overall technology investment strategy and the infrastructure?
Steve asks, what would your short list look like? I thought about that question for high-pressure technology projects, and I came up with these: 1) Get the deadline right. Is it too short, too long, or just right? 2) Get the scope right. Have the teams taken on too much, too little, or just right? 3) Understand our capacitity/productivity. What is it given the complexity of what we build? Have we planned beyond your capacity?
Truth be told, I confess to knowing that these are loaded questions, primarily because the definition of “right” versus wrong is a matter of perception. Most IT organizations have little data on their deadline performance and productivity, so it stands to reason that their deadlines and scope commitments are largely shaped by (mis)perception. But asking the questions starts a dialog around the risks associated with these commitments.
Thos are mine and Steve’s. If anyone has their versions of a short list, feel free to let us know.