My “First 50 days as a startup CIO” covers off the surface level actions of what it means to effectively create a business/IT strategy, but after running another few iterations the core of it is more simple:
Stability creates a platform for agility, which in turn fosters innovation.
Catchy buzzwords aren’t my thing, but there is something to be said for the brevity of words like “agility” (lower case A) and “innovation”. If you have delivered a secure and compliant environment where business needs are being met, regulations are being strictly adhered to, and users are unimpeded by technology, you have a solid foundation that supports failure. Being supportive of failure is one of the most valuable things you can do in a technology department, because without doing so you will stifle any chance at creativity. Creativity is a requirement for innovation, which doesn’t need to be as scary as people make out.
The amount of executives I have spoken to who are horrified by the idea of their staff members creating an innovative solution and running off to create a start-up (thereby removing the knowledge from the company and worse still, potentially solving problems for competitors) is startling. Innovation doesn’t often equal entrepreneurship, and even then, entrepreneurship doesn’t equal disloyalty. Innovation that has been fostered and supported will almost always be given up freely to the company. Of start-up CEOs that I know who have left to start out on their own, not one of them was supported by the company originally.
Creating stability revolves largely around your technical people and how they interact with the business, but it also includes the core infrastructure services. With the acceptance of cloud infrastructure, even in tightly regulated environments, a properly defined infrastructure which supports change is almost routine to implement, all while being highly resilient (and surprisingly cost effective).
Services on demand, empowered staff and a protective leadership style* is my recommended method to delivering real value from IT strategy.
* Not to be confused with a self-protective leadership style, protective leadership is a stronger form of servant leadership. It is particularly relevant with technical teams.