What is your initial reaction to the title of this blog post?  I thought it was daft… until I read the complete post by Susan Cramm on June 25, 2008 on her Harvard Business Blog: Having IT Your Way.

Here is an excerpt from her blog post:

Over the past decade, IT organizations have worked hard to improve services and in turn increase IT’s impact on the business. But in the quest to deliver great service, IT actually may have been disabling rather than enabling the enterprise.

How? In two ways. First, continual hand-holding leads to a loss of precious time that could be devoted to more important activities. Second, helping others who can help themselves circumvents learning. It lets them off the hook and alleviates their sense of responsibility. And ultimately it slows down progress as communication is constantly being run through an intermediary. In delegation lingo, this is called taking on someone else’s monkey.

PUNCHLINE:   Based on my observations in the firms I serve around the world, I would say that too many lawyers pride themselves on their IT incompetencies believing that it makes them somehow charming and brilliant.  I say they might as well be sneaking into the firm at night and taking cash out of the safe.  The costs associated with that attitude include:

  • poorer client service by failing to capitalize on the efficiencies technology offers
  • competitive disadvantage (clients do not find incompetency charming ever)
  • wasted IT personnel time
  • distracting and therefore delaying or discouraging the latest IT initiatives
  • <I’ll bet the IT folks out there can add lots to this list>

Allow me to transpose one of Susan’s comments for Managing Partners and CIO’s in the legal profession:

Pleasing partners shouldn’t be IT’s ultimate goal (or that of the Managing Partner). Rather, the ultimate goal of the Managing Partner and the CIO is to ensure the success of the firm. Help IT serve you and the firm by making sure that IT isn’t doing anything for individuals that they can, and should, do for themselves.