The Evolution of the Organizational Architect
Strategy is increasingly a moving target. And despite strategists’ and technologists’ recognition that developing a productive relationship is critical, it’s been hard to build a technology platform to support visions based on capabilities that may or may not exist.
Fortunately, say researchers from the University of Oxford and the Warwick University Business School in England, a few enterprises are showing how to successfully bridge the great divide.
Chris Sauer and Leslie Willcocks surveyed CEOs and CIOs at 97 companies that had moved or were moving to e-business. As the companies shrank their development and planning cycles, the gap between strategists and technologists grew. But in a few enterprises, the authors spotted inspired players they call “organizational architects.” These leaders were generally technology-smart CEOs or business-savvy CIOs who developed mechanisms to force communication between strategists and technologists. The success stories point to the value of companywide transformation, with organizational architects guiding the translation of strategy to a flexible, integrated platform.
Dialogue between strategists and technologists makes it possible to define and design structures, processes, capabilities and technologies that have a greater chance of being responsive to organizational goals. In true synergy, the platform is shaped by the vision, and the vision is reshaped by the characteristics of the platform that enable the vision.
How do organizational architects keep business and technology concerns united? They view technology and organization as equal influences; they standardize and centralize; they manage change intelligently; and they match capability and ambition. Companies such as Oracle, IBM, the utility Citipower and the investment bank Macquarie (the latter two in Australia) have already strengthened their business-technology alignment by applying one or more of these principles.