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Speed Review: Making the Invisible Visible

Speed Review: Making the Invisible Visible

Speed Review: Making the Invisible Visible

How Companies Win with the Right Information, People and IT

by Donald Marchand, John Rollins & William Kettinger

The authors use a survey of 1,000 senior managers to pinpoint how the measurement and management of a company’s information capabilities leads to high performance.


Measure and Manage Your Information Capabilities

The daily information generated by a company is a valuable asset that affects every manager, employee and customer who relies on the company's products and services. How an organization manages the information that flows through it is vital to its operation, people and financial goals. To help companies better use their information technology systems, Donald A. Marchand, William J. Kettinger and John D. Rollins, the authors of Making the Invisible Visible, find crucial lessons in the results of a monumental survey project, "Navigating Business Success," which comprises data collected from more than 1,000 senior managers representing 169 senior management teams in 98 companies from 25 industries and 22 countries.

The authors use the results of the survey, completed by the International Institute of Management Development and Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), to create a practical guide for effectively managing information to improve organizations' business performance. By looking closely at international success stories, the authors are able to explain how these companies reached impressive goals through winning IT formulas. The authors take these formulas and break them down into strategic ways any company can measure and manage information, people and IT.

Five Strategies

The book divides these strategies into five parts:

  1. Improving business performance through effective information use. Using the survey's results as a starting point, the authors sought to link business performance with information capabilities. They found that a successful company will:
    • promote behaviors and values in its staff for effective use of information and IT;
    • manage information effectively over its life cycle, and
    • manage appropriate IT applications and infrastructure to support operational, decision-making and communication processes. The interaction of these capabilities creates the Information Orientation (IO) metric. The authors write that a high IO is a key link to high business performance.
  2. Measuring information capabilities. The authors write that the best measures are linked to business performance and the strategies and business capabilities of an organization. Using the survey's results, the authors have created the "IO dashboard." This measurement tool allows managers to see and benchmark where a company stands in using information effectively, and helps them understand the relationship of an organization's information use to its overall business performance. This tool divides companies into four categories: self-aware winners, winners at risk, information-oriented laggards, and those that are blind and confused.
  3. Managing information capabilities. To make IO happen, executives must manage information capabilities to achieve superior performance. A company with a proactive information environment and better information capabilities in place is better able to sense and respond to business and market shifts with speed and flexibility.
  4. Strategy and competing with information capabilities.The research is used to present corporate strategies that encompass the priorities a company hopes to achieve through five business capabilities: organizational structure, processes, people, external relationships and information capabilities (IC). The authors demonstrate how managers in successful organizations connect their IC investments to their business capability mixes to reach desired strategic priorities.
  5. Putting information capabilities into practice starts with you. Building IO maturity begins with the mind-sets, behaviors and the practices of managers and their effective use of information. The authors offer managers a list of seven key principles to improve information capabilities. These include the call for managers to: both know how to use IT and understand the role of IT in their business and communicate this to others, personally set the standards for information behaviors and values in their organizations, and know how to effectively use information.

A Comprehensive View

Making the Invisible Visible uses clear logic and measurements to develop a comprehensive view of the role of information technology and management in creating successful businesses. The global reach of the study they use to create their strategies provides a multifaceted view of the integral role of information in modern businesses and demonstrates how they can succeed through better IT metrics and management.