Reported results from a recent Canadian study of the long-standing battle between business and Information Technology managers have started me thinking about why this is a battle at all–not to mention why it seems to never abate.
According to the study–by Info-Tech Research Group and KnowledgeStorm–the problem is that IT managers’ “tech talk” baffles business managers and fails to communicate IT imperatives.
“Lack of alignment between the IT and business management sides of the enterprise means there’s a Tower of Babel scenario happening in most businesses when IT program requirements are discussed,” says Michael O’Neil, a research fellow with Info-Tech. “Either the IT managers need to develop strong communications skills to put forward the needs and benefits of IT investment, or they need to find suppliers who excel at articulating value to executives.”
So the answer is as simple as improving communication? Well, I’m just not buying that. While it would be hard to argue with better communication as a goal, I have a hunch that there’s more to this problem than an improved facility for the written or spoken word can address.
You see, the real problem is not how well the two sides communicate their needs and capabilities, although that is certainly important. Instead, the core difficulty lies in how the would-be combatants think and the expectations that grow out of that thinking.
The kind of thinking I’m talking about–the kind that defies reality, damages relationships, scuttles projects and ruins careers–is endemic to the business/IT struggle. This kind of thinking is puerile, selfish, unrealistic, and even delusional.
In my other life as a counselor, I often encounter these self-deceptive, illogical and self-destructive thought patterns in drug addicts and alcoholics. It’s a small wonder that in 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, they refer to it as “stinking thinking.”
So what examples of “stinking thinking” find their way into the business/IT relationship? How about the business executive who believes she can just throw a business project over the fence and get a perfect solution from those “weird” IT people?