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Well-known expert on why IT projects fail, CEO of Asuret, a Brookline, MA consultancy that uses specialized tools to measure and detect potential vulnerabilities in projects, programs, and initiatives. Also a popular and prolific blogger, writing the IT Project Failures blog for ZDNet.

3 responses to “CIO view: Business requirements and the elegant art of ‘no’”

  1. Vaughan Merlyn

    Excellent post about a very common and value-destroying problem – thank you! You hit an important proverbial nail on its head with your closing paragraph, “Constructively ‘saying no’ is a cooperative and beneficial activity if born of confidence, experience, and shared values. However, be wary of obstructionists who masquerade as cooperative helpers when their primary goal is achieving personal political gain or creating factional divisions.”

    This speaks to business and IT maturity – an important lens through which I have studied IT value realization for 20+ years. At low maturity, IT leaders have neither the mechanisms nor credibility to say “No!” So a vicious cycle is generated – business execs ask for stuff and IT execs are happy (even if reluctantly so) to ‘take the orders.” Over time, the business execs complain that the cost of IT is too high, the value delivered, too low, and it’s IT leadership’s fault! If IT leadership pushes back, then not only is IT of questionable value, but also, as you point out, is unresponsive!

    This is a difficult cycle to break out of – often requiring a change of IT leadership. Where there is such a change in leadership, the turn around may have more to do with the ‘honeymoon period’ allowed the new leadership, rather than any particular new competencies brought to the table. The new leader has a little time to educate business leaders, forge a strong partnership with the CFO, and introduce business-IT governance practices that shine a light on dysfunctional behavior in the demand-supply dynamic.

    It’s a tough problem to solve, but it is solvable – takes some willpower and astute political maneuverings.

  2. Michael Krigsman

    Vaughn, thank you for the thoughtful comment. Would love it if you were to leave a copy of this comment over on ZDNet, because there is a discussion there:

    Thank you,

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