Chapter 2. IT Ineffectiveness Sources and Causes


I think it is an immutable law in business that words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises—but only performance is reality. Performance alone is the best measure of your confidence, competence and courage. Only performance gives you the freedom to grow as yourself.

Just remember that: Performance is your reality. Forget everything else. That is why my definition of a manager is what it is: one who turns in the performance. No alibis to others or to one’s self will change that. And when you have performed well, the world will remember it, when everything else is forgotten. And, most importantly, so will you.

 --Harold Geneen, CEO, ITT[1]

In the previous chapter, we outlined the fundamental IT effectiveness dilemma facing both the CIO and the senior management team in a corporation. This chapter focuses on the symptoms that manifest themselves in ineffective IT departments, the proximate causes of those issues, and the ultimate cause of IT dysfunction: the leadership gap caused by inadequate preparation for the management responsibilities a career in IT gives to future managers.

We have been fortunate to have worked in dozens of IT departments, in a variety of roles—technical support staff, developers, managers, consultants, and advisors. We have observed a common set of symptoms of an ineffective, struggling IT department. Most of these phenomena have very little to do with the specific technology deployed, ...

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