I’ve been in some recent conversations about goals, missions statements, values and strategy at an organizational level. At my company, we are big into goal alignment and for years we’ve made a serious effort to state top-level goals for the company and then have them ripple down through the organization. We attempt to align goals in the organization to help us achieve our top level goals. Each goal has parents and perhaps children that others in the organization might align to in order to deliver on the top level goals. It is a good process.
As the head of IT, I’m originating some goals for the company. If there is a goal to improve protection of intellectual property or to improve business continuity protection for the IT assets, those likely are originating with the CIO or one of his lieutenants. There is not a problem with this as it makes sense that the head of any organization is likely to originate some goals and the CIO is likely to originate some IT goals for the company. As a result, the head of IT might originate some goals and others might be aligned to goals above.
However, in the case of mission statements, I think IT’s mission statement should be the same as the Enterprise mission statement. If the company’s mission is to make high quality widgets at low cost, then IT’s mission is to make high quality widgets at low cost. IT doesn’t really make the widgets or sell them or design them, but we are part of the team that does and it is our mission that we succeed. We enable and support the engineers doing design work and we enable and support operations who build the widgets and we help the sales team sell widgets.
It doesn’t matter if you are part of the help desk or work in a data center or updating some software system or whatever, you are there to help your company make great widgets. Companies don’t have IT organizations because they want IT organizations. They have an IT organization to sell widgets.
I think any other IT mission statement is inappropriate.
Years ago, I read an article about the original Cray computer company. All the employees knew that they were the home of ‘go fast’ computing. It didn’t matter who you were in the company or what organization you were part of in the company, you were there to make fast computers. I’m in IT but my mission is to help us make and sell those widgets.
Would love to hear others thoughts on this. Comments welcome.