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Businesses do not Exist

I am not certain if it is a matter of being lazy or if it is nature’s way of not burdening us with too much detail but regardless of the reason people do not ‘think’ correctly about governments, religions, races or businesses.   Our thinking falls down when referring to any group or entity as if is one thing.

We often hear about how inefficient “the government” is in the US.  “The government can not run anything” or “the military and intelligence should not be used in the same sentence”.  What we are failing to realize is the government is not one thing  – it is many.  The military (while being protrayed as having some questionable purchasing practices) is composed of many brilliant people.  The military is many.

And when we speak about business we should remember that it is not just one thing.  I spent seven years in the role of CIO.  One of the challenges facing CIOs centers on the idea of aligning IT with ‘the business’.  And here is when I learned that ‘the business’ does not exist.  The business is a collection of disparate groups, all sharing a common banner, but operating relatively independently of each other.  Each have their own metrics, own goals, objectives, and key performance indicators.   Each being led by a person wishing to have a World Class organization. 

Essentially each department is a business within a business.  I witnessed it first hand when I sat in on the assessment of the alignment of an IT department with the rest of the business.  The findings were not in favor of the IT department.  The consulting company determined that more than 80% of the IT projects did not support the key drivers for the business.  The consulting company therefore determined the IT department was not aligned with the business.  Just how wrong the consulting company was became apparent when it was discovered that every one of those projects originated outside of IT.  Those projects came from ‘the business’.

What you have is the situation where ‘the business is not aligned with the business’.  Actually there is no such thing as ‘the business’.  ‘The business’ was never designed as an entity but instead it evolved one decision at a time and just happens to look the way it looks.

This is the primary achilles heel for every business – business executives do not understand that the business they are leading actually has a design and  that design is as tangible as the design of their products or processes.  Nor do they understand that the design of a business has the greatest impact on the performance of ‘the business’.

Wouldn’t you like to see what your business design looks like?  Wouldn’t you like to be able to analyze the performance capabilities of your design and make any necessary changes to improve its performance? 

If you took the time to have your business designed – then your business would actually exist.  Without the design your business is really just a bunch of departments acting mostly independently.  Good luck with that.

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