IT’s Gold Medal: Practicing Top IT Strategy, article in CIO Journal

September 30, 2014
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IT’s Gold Medal: Practicing Top IT Strategy

by Peter High, published on CIO Journal


CIOs have been accused of being better at tactics than strategy. This may be a result of the legacy of their leading what has long been considered a support organization of the company. Also the quarterly earnings of public companies often force the enterprise to plan more in the short-term rather than the long-term. But imagine if your next major deliverable was in four years? How would you plan?

Peter High, in an excerpt from his new book, Implementing World Class IT Strategy, writes of how Gerry Pennell, the CIO of the London 2012 Olympic Games, leveraged strategic thinking to develop a plan for the games that was flexible enough to accommodate changes along the way. CIOs of more traditional enterprises have much to learn from the way in which he went about his job. What follows is an excerpt from a chapter devoted solely to Mr. Pennell.

In November of 2008, Gerry Pennell became CIO for the ultimate world sporting and cultural event, the Olympic Games, whose cauldron would be lit by the Olympic torch in London on July 27, 2012, and burn for a fortnight. The Beijing Olympics had recently concluded, and he stared down the road at nearly four years of planning and execution as part of the event’s top organizing committee. The scale of what he had to pull off coupled with the high bar set by the example of Beijing were motivation enough for Pennell to assemble a team, and to begin to set a plan.

But his early steps were complicated by the fact that the strategic plans for the other functions the committee oversaw were in their nascent stages at best. To Pennell, that meant setting a direction for the technological approach to the Games that would still be malleable enough to change as he engaged further with his fellow committee leaders. He couldn’t wait for them to get started.

To read the full article, please visit CIO Journal

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