Business Issues, CIO Leadership, IT Performance

What Eisenhower knew about today's IT

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Eisenhower did not like plans, but he insisted on planning. CIOs should take his words to heart, says ECF community manager John Dodge.

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Here's the transcript: 

I love this quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower: “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” Thanks to Rene Hermes for using the quote in a comment at the Enterprise CIO Forum.

What Ike, as he was affectionately known to baby boomers like me, actually said was “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

This is wonderful perspective for today’s CIO, who is being barraged with breathless reports, surveys and punditry that breathlessly predict their world is crumbling.   That we’ve never seen such radical change. That changing things has never been so urgent.

Ike’s wise words are reflected in countless reports and survey about how CIO had better change and turn IT upside down. The latest drama comes a new Accenture report called “Reimaging IT for the uncertain future.”

When, might I ask, has the future EVER been certain? And when has the CIO had the luxury of not responding with incredible urgency?

 The benefit of 20/20 hindsight suggests that the CIO had it easy for two decades as IT caretakers. But you’d be wrong because the CIO has never had it easy. Job security has always been elusive because the CIO had to keep pace with ever changing technology and doing much more with much less.

The report goes into such incendiary topics as blowing up the IT department and rebuilding it, discarding your IT infrastructure and rebuilding it in 30 days and rethinking everything about IT delivery.

And there’s some good advice in this report and insight into the future. But you can find many more consultant and academic authored reports that more or less say the same thing.

But General Eisenhower knew a few things about incendiaries…he knew that the best laid plans must constantly be changed and adapted to the reality of the situation. And he knew this a long time ago when he oversaw the D-Day invasion, which hit the beaches 68 years ago yesterday.


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