One of my business partner Jim’s favorite soapboxes is that most strategies don’t really say anything. And he’s right. I could go on about business strategies in their own right, but I’ll start with the problems with most IT strategic objectives since that’s where we tend to get involved. They go something like this: “we want to be more responsive to our clients, optimizing our costs, improving quality of solutions, and developing and engaging the best people around”. You can’t really argue with any of it, but it sure doesn’t give your employees much focus. And it doesn’t have any specific tie to what the business does as a whole. It’s just that it could be the IT strategy at any company, in any industry, with any variety of business objectives that might require very different focuses from their technology organization.

Thanks to one of my clients for sending me this article from Global CIO the other day, which gave me hope that some organizations out there are really getting it. Chevron’s IT objectives go something like this, as described by their CIO, Louie Ehrlich:

“First: connecting people, partners, and businesses. We’re a global company, with lots of different types of relationships around the world with governments or joint ventures or business units, and whatever those relationships are or wherever they may extend, we need to be able to allow our people to connect easily and securely.

“Second, accelerating insights: for a company like ours, it’s finding ways to improve how we view things like the subsurface more effectively, or how we look across the business and gain insights. And doing that implies improved data, and a single source of truth, which is difficult if we’ve haven’t set things up properly,” he said.

The third objective is keyed to automating, integrating, and optimizing business assets around the globe, infusing IT more deeply and strategically into the global Chevron central nervous system.

Now that’s what I’m talking about. Good stuff. It actually defines how IT contributes to business value and helps employees engage with their ultimate business objectives.