Global CIO: Business/IT Alignment 'Is Dead' -- What's Next?

A new book offers a prescription for rethinking the role of technology and getting ready for the post-recession world.

Bob Evans, Contributor

February 4, 2009

3 Min Read

Taking this new approach, he says, will allow the future of technology to be "about innovation, about being able to produce strategy-based gains and clearly show the strategic potential of technology."

And then he makes the most damning argument of all against Alignment. And as you look at his call for the end of Alignment, recall the number of times you've wondered why it's so hard to get "the business" to understand your ideas and approaches; why they think IT is too often part of the problem; and why they see you and your deeply committed teams as a cost center rather than as a strategic asset capable of creating or unlocking huge value within the organization.

"We will only be able to do that if we use the bulk of our energy and efforts in making technology work for us. Not in pouring huge amounts of money into bridging the gap between the business and the IT department. Instead of wasting efforts on maintaining two opposites and neutralizing the friction between them, we should bundle all our energy into making technology more effective. And this will only be done if we transform IT, bringing it closer to the business, and blending IT with the business to focus on technology-enabled innovation."

And, as an honorary associate of the Life Is Not Fair department, Hinssen places the responsibility for igniting this change not on the CEO or the HR team or some outside wizard, but squarely on you, the CIO.

"The right CIO will have to put the IT department at risk, perhaps even dismantle the IT department, in order to rebuild it. He will have to burn down the IT department in order for a new element to rise from the ashes. He will have to abandon the IT department to create something totally new. But you have to want that. As the CIO, you will really want to change, with the great lure of being able to reinvent IT, reinvent your own role and position. The downside is you'll have to let go of your current cozy status."

Now, while some might quibble with the description of the CIO status as "cozy," particularly in these times, Hinssen's overall thesis is correct: without you driving it, this change will not happen. Or at least it won't result in the desired outcome. But the adventure, he says, can be well worth it: "It's not like we're revolting against our company, or revolting against the business. On the contrary ... . It's about our new horizon, beyond the limits of the old IT department. But it's mainly about getting the passion back into IT. About rekindling the 'flame' in the old IT, and getting it to become a roaring fire again."

Hinssen's call to greatness reminded me of the line from Robert Browning: "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?" Indeed, life's not always fair, but I suspect if your ultimate career goal was fairness, you would've pursued some other job long ago. And that's why it's time to start thinking very seriously about life after alignment.

For more info on Hinssen and his new book, go to

About the Author(s)

Bob Evans


Bob Evans is senior VP, communications, for Oracle Corp. He is a former InformationWeek editor.

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