The way that we use information technology (IT) has evolved beyond simple automation to organizational transformation. If we are to realize the benefits of IT- enabled change we must both change the way that we manage IT and change the way that we manage our organizations. The mission of The Thorp Network is to support organizations in implementing a new approach to governance – a Strategic Governance approach. We also want to stimulate discussion and learning around the thorny issue of truly realizing the benefits from ever-increasing investments in IT- enabled change.
High profile scandals involving companies such as Enron, Tyco and WorldCom, and resulting legislation including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, have brought renewed focus on corporate governance. Even before this however, corporate governance was in need of major surgery. The failure of many, if not most organizations to deliver demonstrable value from major change initiatives, including mergers and acquisitions, business process re-engineering, and major IT investments is a symptom of the failure of corporate governance to evolve to meet the needs of a complex and rapidly changing business environment.
Current governance processes are woefully inadequate to manage what is, in most cases, “an uncertain journey to an uncertain destination.” We need a continuous and dynamic Strategic Governance process that manages the full investment cycle “from concept to cash,” one that senses and responds to changes in the internal and external environment, to our understanding of what is working and not working as expected, and to our assumptions. Without such a process, the risk of ending up in the wrong place, with the associated undesirable business consequences, is significantly increased.
Our approach to Strategic Governance builds on the Benefits Realization Approach, as described in John Thorp’s book, “The Information Paradox”, first published in 1998, with a revised edition published in 2003.
Adopting and implementing a Strategic Governance approach will not be easy. It will require vision, discipline, and the courage to stay the course. It represents a fundamental change in how we think, manage, and act. Without such change, however, we will continue to dismally under perform. There will, as always, be a few bright stars, but most results will be mediocre at best and appalling at worse. Organizations the people who they serve, the people who work in them, and society as a whole deserve better. Investors and analysts will demand that we do better. We can and must do better!