Get into office politics if you want to get on the board

Our continuing research into the nature and consequences of the IT stereotype have shown that there has been some progress over...

Our continuing research into the nature and consequences of the IT stereotype have shown that there has been some progress over time in the relationships between IT people and others in the business community.

Our data shows that business people have noticed improved responsiveness to business needs, improved service delivery and the increased credibility of IT managers.

But despite the espoused strategic importance of IT to so many businesses, it appears that many business people continue to view IT as a support function rather than part of the centre of the business. This has led to senior IT people being excluded from the most senior decision-making bodies. Our suggestion is that this has a number of causes.

The first is the mismatch between many of the opportunities IT provides to transform society and what people want from technology. Technology gurus continue to promote visions of the future in which many of our deeper needs appear to be overlooked. This leads to a suspicion that technologists really do not understand the human condition.

This suspicion is reinforced within the IT stereotype. It may not be fair to every IT manager, but it is the filter through which they are likely to be viewed. By failing to confront the stereotype, they allow it to persist.

Finally, many IT managers reinforce the stereotype by taking a naive stance towards the relationships and networks that characterise how most senior people operate. By shunning politics, IT managers fail to achieve the influence they need to enable IT to take its place on the most senior agendas of their businesses.

Extract from chapter seven: IT on board or under the thumb, by Robina Chatham and Keith Patching directorders@elsevier.com
This was last published in September 2004

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