Championing the Enterprise with Business Process: The Disconnect

By Luc Hatlestad Print this article Print

Recognized worldwide for his work on organizational change, IT management issues, process management and reengineering, Jim Champy of Perot Systems is now writing books on competition, customers, people management and business execution. In this interview with Baseline, Champy finds that IT is major enabler of business change and tells us about the companies who are experiencing real growth through smart IT and business initiatives.

There’s often a disconnect between what IT managers know about their technologies and what the people who use them understand. How can these two groups meet in the middle?

Champy: You should always try to lean more toward the users’ culture. IT people often don’t understand how the users experience their products and services because the tech staffers are too internally focused. That’s why they keep having the same problems all the time. There’s almost an inverse relationship between the degree of technology sophistication in a company and the degree of user sophistication, and I’m struck by how the IT people repeat the same errors time after time.

The companies in my books are driven from the outside in by unmet user needs. They’re not focused internally or on their competitors; they’re focused on what the users and customers are telling them. When someone is telling me about a new product or service—particularly if it’s a new technology—I always caution him or her not to underestimate the adoption time: It will be longer than you think.


Would IT managers be better served by retraining their people to think more like users?

Champy: I don’t know if you have to go that far. It just takes a strong user voice from inside the company. You don’t change a company’s culture easily, but one of the ways you do institute change is by requiring IT staff to be involved in discussions with users for some regularly prescribed amount of time.

I’ve seen this start to change cultures inside companies. When organizations change, it’s usually because there’s a really strong executive voice speaking on behalf of the user.

This article was originally published on 2008-11-26
Luc Hatlestad is a freelance writer for Baseline magazine.
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