I’d like to tell a story about a friend of mine who is a CIO, whom I’ll call “Jerry.” He is the CIO of a multibillion dollar technology firm. When Jerry joined the firm, he began to ask other members of the leadership team about their plans and found out they didn’t have much. At best, what had been produced (by Marketing, Finance, Human Resources, Sales, Engineering, and even at the level of the CEO of the company) was tactical rather than strategic.
Jerry’s new firm suffered from a common ailment among fast-growing companies that have not reached anywhere near saturation in their markets: their number one objective is to “increase sales.” Sales targets might be better defined as, “Increase by 25 percent in the next fiscal year,” but if those targets aren’t qualified further, their suggestion is that any new revenue is good revenue. What the target doesn’t say is, for example,