Bringing Yin and Yang to the Productivity Zone

Bringing Yin and Yang to the Productivity Zone

GUEST POST from Geoffrey A. Moore

Digital transformation is hardly new. Advances in computing create more powerful infrastructure which in turn enables more productive operating models which in turn can enable wholly new business models. From mainframes to minicomputers to PCs to the Internet to the Worldwide Web to cloud computing to mobile apps to social media to generative AI, the hits just keep on coming, and every IT organization is asked to both keep the current systems running and to enable the enterprise to catch the next wave. And that’s a problem.

The dynamics of productivity involve a yin and yang exchange between systems that improve efficiency and programs that improve effectiveness. Systems, in this model, are intended to maintain state, with as little friction as possible. Programs, in this model, are intended to change state, with maximum impact within minimal time. Each has its own governance model, and the two must not be blended.

It is a rare IT organization that does not know how to maintain its own systems. That’s Job 1, and the decision rights belong to the org itself. But many IT organizations lose their way when it comes to programs—specifically, the digital transformation initiatives that are re-engineering business processes across every sector of the global economy. They do not lose their way with respect to the technology of the systems. They are missing the boat on the management of the programs.

Specifically, when the CEO champions the next big thing, and IT gets a big chunk of funding, the IT leader commits to making it all happen. This is a mistake. Digital transformation entails re-engineering one or more operating models. These models are executed by organizations outside of IT. For the transformation to occur, the people in these organizations need to change their behavior, often drastically. IT cannot—indeed, must not—commit to this outcome. Change management is the responsibility of the consuming organization, not the delivery organization. In other words, programs must be pulled. They cannot be pushed. IT in its enthusiasm may believe it can evangelize the new operating model because people will just love it. Let me assure you—they won’t. Everybody endorses change as long as other people have to be the ones to do it. No one likes to move their own cheese.

Given all that, here’s the playbook to follow:

  1. If it is a program, the head of the operating unit that must change its behavior has to sponsor the change and pull the program in. Absent this commitment, the program simply must not be initiated.
  2. To govern the program, the Program Management Office needs a team of four, consisting of the consuming executive, the IT executive, the IT project manager, and the consuming organization’s program manager. The program manager, not the IT manager, is responsible for change management.
  3. The program is defined by a performance contract that uses a current state/future state contrast to establish the criteria for program completion. Until the future state is achieved, the program is not completed.
  4. Once the future state is achieved, then the IT manager is responsible for securing the system that will maintain state going forward.

Delivering programs that do not change state is the biggest source of waste in the Productivity Zone. There is an easy fix for this. Just say No.

That’s what I think. What do you think?

Image Credit: Unsplash

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