t had been one of the most frustrating weeks of my life.
We had been working with a very large manufacturing firm for quite some time. We had become their “trusted advisors.” Or so we thought.
Then we learned the CIO was bringing in a big management consulting firm to present a business case to his board. At the end of the week, we were having dinner with the CIO and members of his senior leadership team, so I figured I’d have my chance to get to the bottom of this decision.
“Sam, why are you bringing in this big consulting firm to prepare the business case for your board?” I said, half asking and half complaining. “You know that we’ve been doing this work and that we’ll be the ones left to do the work after they’ve come and gone.”
“Charlie, I know that. But you guys are way too small. I can’t put you in front of my board. I need this consulting firm to help me sell the board on what must be done.”
And with that, our conversation was over. I understood Sam’s reasoning. It would take me years, however, to figure out that his reasoning was completely wrong.
The Problem With Pitches
In truth, I probably can’t blame Sam. (His real name, like other details in this article, has been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.) This is the way the game has been played from the very beginning of the IT function. I discovered this unfortunate truth when I conducted research for my book, The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. IT has always believed that “the business” is not capable of understanding technical challenges and trade-offs, so we have decided what was best and proceeded to “sell” the organization on the right course of action.
The problem is that this process of pitching a project has created a dysfunctional relationship in which IT’s customers no longer believe that they can trust us—and for good reason.