In Darrell Rigby’s article last week in Harvard Business Review, “Two Digital Myths That Trip Up the C-Suite,” he debunks the idea that “every individual or organizational unit must be self-sufficient in digital technologies” and that LoB decision makers need to develop their own digital infrastructure. His argument against this approach is based primarily on the “shadow IT” problem, and he highlights the range of negative impacts shadow IT can have.
He then says that a more effective strategy for digital infrastructure creation is structured around team-based, agile innovation and he highlights a range of examples where this has been successful.
We agree strongly with his proposed approach, but for different reasons.
First we don’t believe that the fundamental problem is shadow IT. The key issue is that transformation isn’t possible if it can’t ultimately propagate across the enterprise. Siloed innovation might be positive at early stages of the process to help drive change, but eventually someone is going to have to push it out of the silos.
Second, and more importantly, we agree that it is critical that CIOs adopt an agile teaming approach to engage with and become leading partners with their LoB partners. But the reason this teamwork is critical is that without a strong connection between business outcomes and agile action, the agile model will break down. For organizations to truly engage in agile development of digital initiatives, there is no choice but to closely tie IT and the LoB stakeholders- and align action to business outcomes.
To be successful, organizations must align in this way, and the CIO needs to take a leadership role in driving agile team-making with his business counterparts if organizations are to succeed in transforming and innovating.