From White Knight to Curmudgeon, IT cultures fall into four categories. Which one describes your organization?
There is a diversity of cultures in IT departments. These cultures reflect the attitude of an organization’s top leadership toward IT, as well as IT’s own ability (or lack thereof) to learn, grow, and change. Given the importance of IT to modern business, an organization’s IT culture matters. The right fit can make IT a powerful force for positive change.
Though not an IT practitioner myself, I will attempt to classify IT culture by putting IT organizations into 4 buckets. Please bear with me.
1. The White Knight
2. The Work Horse
3. The Agreeable Friend
4. The Curmudgeon
The White Knight can also be called Hero-IT. In this organization, IT always comes to the rescue by initiating new projects, failing fast at errant ones, and keeping tight, value-added relationships with the rest of the organization. White Knight organizations are proactive and progressive.
Work Horse organizations are dependable but not flashy. They think of IT’s role as enabling the rest of the business in its current state. They are polite, SLA-driven, and approachable. Work Horse organizations give IT a good name and dispel the perception that IT is aloof.
Agreeable Friend organizations respond to the demands of internal customers, but don’t teach or coach the rest of the company. They get high marks from average employees but rarely impress the more discerning ones who look for sustainable solutions rather than quick fixes.
Curmudgeon organizations believe in rigid, rule-based approaches to IT. For them, the word “governance” is not a 4-letter word. Curmudgeon organizations love IT but don’t like their customers and have fealty to the abstraction they call “the company” as opposed to the people who work on the company’s behalf.
If you think this is fair taxonomy (howsoever imperfect), where does your IT organization sit on the list? Do you see elements of multiple categories within a single organization? Where would you like your organization to be?
My own experiences with IT organizations has been excellent and rewarding. I have not once worked for a firm with a Curmudgeon IT culture. But I’ve also heard the horror stories.
Please share your own experiences and let me know if this cultural taxonomy makes sense to you. Do the definitions work? Would you add other categories? I’d like to hear your feedback.
Romi Mahajan is the founder of KKM Group, a boutique marketing and strategy advisory firm. He is also an Interop track chair for the "Business of IT" track. He spent nine years at Microsoft and was the first CMO of Ascentium, an award-winning digital agency. Romi has also ... View Full Bio
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