The paradox is that when managers focus on productivity, long-term improvements are rarely made. On the other hand, when managers focus on quality, productivity improves continuously.
In most enterprises, there is a distinction between the people who build and run software systems (often referred to as “IT”) and those who decide what the software should do and make the investment decisions (often called “the business”). These names are relics of a bygone age in which IT was considered a cost necessary to improve efficiencies of the business, not a creator of value for external customers by building products and services. These names and the functional separation have stuck in many organizations (as has the relationship between them, and the mindset that often goes with the relationship). Ultimately, we aim to remove this distinction. In high-performance organizations today, people who design, build, and run software-based products are an integral part of business; they are given—and accept—responsibility for customer outcomes. But getting to this state is hard, and it’s all too easy to slip back into the old ways of doing things.
Achieving high performance in organizations that treat software as a strategic advantage relies on alignment between the IT function and the rest of the organization, along with the ability of IT to execute. It pays off. In a report for the MIT Sloan Management Review, “Avoiding the Alignment Trap ...