Multi Level Strategy


The role of the IT department has changed.

The traditional barriers faced by organizational units or departments in adopting technology have all but disappeared. The continued growth of affordable cloud based XaaS (anything/everything as a service) offerings removes the need for large capex spending, lowers the skills burden, and ultimately brings best in class technology solutions within reach of even the smallest units in your organization.

In this landscape, conflict between traditional IT operations and the units they support is common. Org units view IT departments as restrictive and antiquated, and IT view the org units as reckless cowboys.

To a degree, both of them are right, but it’s important to clear up one thing right now: creating a technology strategy is no longer a task that your IT department can own.


anatomy of a technology strategy

A good technology strategy follows the purpose, principles, product method.

It’s purpose describes the broad problems and goals that more intelligent use of technology can contribute to solving. The purpose in a technology strategy is defined by senior business leaders and directly references organizational vision.

It’s principles define the platforms with which technology will be delivered. The principles in a technology strategy are defined by senior IT leaders and directly reference the strategy’s purpose.

It’s product defines the methods by which technology solutions can be accessed or acquired. The product in a technology strategy is negotiated between senior business and IT leaders.

These three sections, documented and brought together, form your organization’s technology strategy.

Be prepared to revisit your technology strategy regularly. As you and your transformation team start to drive changes you will start to uncover new opportunities and innovative solutions.

multi level strategy

An organization wide strategy is great, but for a strategy to applied directly at an org unit level, it needs to be more focused. Time to add the “multi-level” to multi-level strategy.

Just like the creation of a shared vision, the process and format described above needs to be repeated for every org unit, with more functional meaning in purpose and increasing levels of detail in principles and product.

business & IT in partnership

In some organizations, this approach could represent a change, particularly in the role that IT units play in creating technology strategy. More and more, their role needs to transform to that of a technology standards, consulting, coordination, and integration unit.

Collaboration between org and IT units in creating a technology strategy shifts the role of IT units from service provider to partner.

insights & further reading

“just 29 percent of IT leaders say their organizations are effective or very effective at IT strategy and planning”1

“IT rarely works as a partner with the business, but most executives believe it should”2

“when IT acts as a partner to the business, rather than as a technology consultant or supplier of IT services, the benefits are striking”2


Go back to the intersection of culture and purpose and review your shared vision with your transformation team.

Hold workshops to create each of the components of your organization-wide technology strategy.

Purpose - include: senior leaders, transformation team

Principles - include: senior IT leaders (think CIO/CTO), transformation team

Product - include: senior leaders, transformation team, senior IT leaders

These workshops will take time. Again, stick with it. Plan for each component to take multiple sessions. Create, review, communicate.

The language used when defining purpose in your organization-wide technology strategy should be such that progress can be measured. As you move forward with creating strategy for individual org units these metrics should include specific targets.

Begin each section by describing it’s current state before moving on to describing the desired state.

Use your transformation team to coach IT and org unit leadership on this approach to technology strategy.

Use your transformation team to facilitate workshops to create these components for each org unit’s technology strategy.

Use your transformation team to review technology strategy frequently. At least quarterly.

Templates, presentations, and examples to facilitate your workshops are included in the methods & tools section.

methods & tools

Contact us to discuss your requirements and access this practical content and further in depth analysis.