An old colleague of mine, Vaughn Merlin, had a really interesting post this week When Strategy Becomes Continuous. It’s a great post and he makes three key points:
- IT strategy is not the point – it’s all about business strategy.
- Much ‘strategy’ effort is not very strategic.
- Strategy formulation and execution are too loosely coupled.
He then quotes Gary Hamel who said “If you want to understand the real strategy, look at what people are doing!”.
It was this last comment that crystalized the link to decision management in my mind. After all, in a modern corporation, it might be almost more appropriate to say “if you want to understand the real strategy, look at what the systems are doing!”. After all, most transactions are handled by systems and, with self-service on the increase, more and more customer interactions are with systems (at least in part).
So that got me thinking. In an era of continuous strategy – where constantly changing and adapting corporate strategy is critical to success – how important is decision management? Critical, clearly. My systems must reflect my strategy and my strategy must change all the time so my systems must be agile. But the kind of changes my systems need to make are changes to decision making – it is the decisions that are implemented in a system that must reflect my strategy.
If we go back to Vaughn’s three points, decision management aligns perfectly. Decision management means putting business people in charge of the behavior of systems (business not IT, point no 1). Decision management focuses effort on the decisions that affect operations (making it strategic, point no 2). And most importantly, decision management ties strategy to execution (point no 3).
Continuous strategy is going to become a competitive reality, decision management is how you can make this work in your information systems. I for one am looking forward to his research on this topic.